Not far from the busy intersection of Highway 500 and Northeast 112th Avenue, a lonely cul-de-sac leads into an undeveloped parcel of land covered with trees and brush. Although concrete barriers keep automobiles off the asphalt, in recent years it’s become a small village of unhoused people living in tents, under tarps and without restrooms, clean water or garbage disposal.
The cul-de-sac’s formal address, 11400 N.E. 51st Circle, is where the city of Vancouver plans to site its first Stay Safe Community for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
In the next few weeks, the city will erect 20 modular pallet shelters housing up to 40 people. Each shelter is weather-tight, and comes with two beds, smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, a fire extinguisher and an electric heater. There will be enough room outside each shelter to park a bicycle.
The property will be fenced and staffed by the city’s selected services provider, Outsiders Inn. There will be restrooms, and trash receptacles, and handwashing facilities, meeting and office space, and access to services that support homeless people.
The community concept sounds much better than the unregulated camping now occurring at the site, but neighbors may have a different opinion. To the city’s credit, it is mailing letters to nearby property owners, residents and businesses informing them of its plans and offering a public comment period that ends Dec. 1.