Neighbors, business owners pack Vancouver City Hall to speak on proposed 3rd Safe Stay Community

VANCOUVER Wash. (KPTV) – City Hall was a packed house Saturday morning, filled with Vancouver community members eager to comment on the latest proposed Safe Stay site.

There are two Safe Stay Communities in Vancouver already, one at Northeast 51st Circle and another on East Fourth Plain Boulevard.

The third proposed site is downtown on West 11th Street, and for at least a month now, business owners and neighbors have been voicing their concerns. In Saturday’s meeting, several people asked whether there were other possible locations and if they will see more camping downtown, which they said they deal with daily.

RELATED: Vancouver considering 3rd ‘Safe Stay Community’ site for houseless residents

The city said camping within 1,000 feet of these Safe Stay Communities is not allowed and their Homeless Resources and Assistance Team still enforce that rule, as they do at the other two locations.

Tom Phelan owns a property within a half block of the proposed downtown site and said while he wants the homeless community to get the help they need, he doesn’t think the location is in the best interest of the city.

“I’m concerned about the safety of the people there,” Phelan said. “I’m also concerned about the aesthetics of it and the effect it’ll have on what I perceive to be an up-and-coming downtown core area I’ve watched evolve over 40 years from really a not good place to a place where people want to come, live, hang out.”

RELATED: City of Vancouver shares 6-month progress report for first Safe Stay Community

Linda Glover, who’s had a business on Main Street for 20 years, said the location makes sense, because that’s where a lot of the unhoused population lives anyway.

“They choose to live downtown like I choose to have a business downtown and we have to respect that,” Glover said. “They’re here and instead of having them camped out on different corners and being moved around and being shunned or yelled at, I really think it’s wise for the city to give them a place where they can go and feel safe, where they can be connected to services where they can take those next steps to become a self-sufficient citizen.”

The next online listening session will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. Click here for more information and the Zoom link.

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