(The Center Square) – The city of Vancouver, Washington, is planning to open five “Safe Stay” shelters for homeless people, with each site providing up to 40 homeless people with their own private units that offer community spaces, restroom and sanitation units, storage facilities and garbage services.
The city laid out its plans for the five Safe Stay modular shelters housing up to 40 people at its Sept. 18 city council meeting. The modular shelters are fenced and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the onsite nonprofit operator, Outsiders Inn.
The city opened its first Safe Stay site in Dec. 2023. Currently, there are two Safe Stay sites, and a third was approved for construction in August. The fourth site is in the final stages of planning, and the fifth site, included in the budget, has no location determined.
City Electric Co. bid the lowest at $708,307.68 for construction cost on the third site last month. The city stated it is spending an additional $225,000 on improvements for the existing Safe Stay sites.
Safe Stay is a program that helps homeless individuals with temporary housing while waiting for more permanent housing while trying to reduce the negative impacts of unsheltered homelessness.
According to documents, there are an estimated 500 to 600 homeless persons in tents or vehicles in Vancouver, posing a significantly large health and safety risk for those experiencing homelessness. The risk of physical danger also impacts single women and families with children.
As previously reported by The Center Square, in states like Colorado, Arizona, California, and Washington, cities are spending millions buying hotels to shelter people experiencing homelessness.
The contract with the Outsiders Inn will last from October 2023 to September 2024.
According to documents, since the beginning of the program for Safe Stay, 41% of those served have moved into permanent housing.