Re: Shelter to Housing Continuum - notes on Work Session today, goals for 2nd one Jan 26th

David Dickson


You are doing amazing work, Tim,  to translate all this complexity to the average person (like myself).  It’s a bit scary to see so much at stake and the balance in the hands of planning technicians.  When the Seattle Low Income Housing Institute tells us that 50-60 is the “sweet spot” for effective village self governance…and when we see again and again that self governed villages enhance the quality of life of residents and actually result in a stronger community resolve to respect rules defined by the community, it is worrisome that traditional city planners will have significant influence in the decisions.  Their recommendations will carry inordinate weight, I fear,  when brought to elected officials who probably don’t have the time to fully understand the issues independently. 

Because I have just a thimbleful of knowledge in this area, I would be happy to have my opinions refuted.  


On Jan 12, 2021, at 6:53 PM, Tim McCormick <tmccormick@...> wrote:

The Planning and Sustainability Commission had a meeting today on which main item was a Work Session (no public comment) on Shelter to Housing Continuum. Basically, they and the city staff are honing in on amendments/revisions to this reform package, intending to vote or settle on most (all?) at a 2nd Work Session on January 26th. 

I watched the meeting video so you don't have to, linked to everything and summarized the amendments so far in play, both in our open community doc and briefly below. It's all there for your comments and suggestions, usual rate of $3/word. (kidding! it's negotiable, of course). 

I'm still examining, but in brief I'd say:
  1. BPS staff is showing some flexibility, i.e. by listing variants of amendments that take different positions;  

  2. but staff still largely pushing for very low number of accommodations (20) in Outdoor Shelters, and exclusion of OS from most of city except for commercial zones on arterial roads. (blegh, let our people free, for some peace and quiet!). 

  3. some things we advocated for seem so far entirely unresponded to, such as allowing full range of structure types in Outdoor Shelters including, you know, housing, enabling a Housing Demonstration Program for innovation pilots, and enabling pilot Parking Dwelling Permit program for managing vehicle dwelling / safe parking. 
The video is actually quite interesting in parts, particularly the contrast between the two testimony panels they had on, the first representing 3 shelter service providers, the 2nd with three people with experience of homelessness, including Jonathan Hill site manager at C3PO Old Town, and Lisa Larson, former resident at and now working with Dignity Village. Jonathan and Lisa did I think an outstanding, powerful job conveying the effectiveness and clear need of relatively self-governing, non-traditional shelter/villages like these -- and Lisa, how they can work with quite minimal outside service staff, contrary to what the service providers emphasized. If you're out there Jonathan and Lisa, or anyone here sees them, give them a big hand, that was really well done. 

Panel 1
Brandi Tuck, Executive Director at Portland Homeless Family Solutions (PHFS)
Chris Aiosa, Executive Director at Do Good Multnomah
Tony Bernal, Senior Director of Public Policy & Funding at Transition Projects

Panel 2
Angi Eagan, PHFS
Jonathan Hill, C(3)PO
Lisa Larson, Dignity Village 

BPS responses to commission amendment & info requests: 
1. Minimum sanitary service standards.
2. Designated supervisor
3. Name and contact information designated supervisor readily available.
4. Designated supervisor to be onsite 24 hours a day.
5. Require meeting between the shelter operator and the neighborhood,
6. Allow 60 accommodations in outdoor shelters without a conditional use in the RM1 through RMP, RX, IR, C, EX, CI, and IR zones? [BPS: No]. 
7. Require certification from the Joint Office of Homelessness that the public agency or nonprofit corporate applicant is sufficiently experienced? [BPS: No]. 
8. Allow Permanent Shelters in Open Space. [BPS: No]
9. Permanent Shelters in Open Space Zones within Certain Areas.
10. Temporary Shelters in Any Base Zone within Certain Areas.
11. Clarify Emergency and Shortage Declarations for Temporary Shelter Uses. [BPS still kinda wants to get rid of State of Emergency powers].
12. Categorize Dwellings with More than Eight Bedrooms as Group Living
13. Define Bedroom
12 [14]. Allow Residency Without Sewer Hook-ups. [BPS suggests an odd 'compromise' I don't yet understand]. 
13 [15].. Recommend Visitability Standards

A matrix of which shelter types that are allowed. [? said they sent it, I didn't see it]. 

how many sites would be available for shelters in each neighborhood
[no map produced, and there's lots of confusion. BPS says they'll bring a map on Jan 26th]. 

Response to Questions
Q4. Why not retain the existing Title 15 Housing Emergency provisions..
[BPS: our job is to not be in an emergency]. 
Q.5. Why not allow two or more tiny houses on wheels or recreational vehicles on residential lots? [BPS: because]. 
Q.6. Should the City grant an amnesty for existing tiny houses on wheels not constructed to a building code or ASCII standard? [BPS: No].

Tim McCormick
Moderator PDX Shelter Forum, Editor at HousingWiki,
Organizer at Village Collaborative
Portland, Oregon 

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