Neighbors and business owners gather at Vancouver City Hall to speak on proposed third safe accommodation community

Vancouver wash. (KPTV) – City Hall was packed Saturday morning with members of the Vancouver community eager to comment on the latest proposed safe place to stay.

Vancouver already has two safe housing communities, one on Northeast 51st Circle and the other on East Fourth Plains Avenue.

The third proposed location is downtown on West 11th Street, where business owners and neighbors have been expressing their concerns for at least a month. At Saturday’s meeting, several people asked if there were other possible locations and if they would see more campgrounds downtown, which they said they deal with on a daily basis.

related: Vancouver considers opening third ‘safe living community’ site for the homeless

Camping within 1,000 feet of these safe living communities is not allowed, the city said, and their homeless resources and assistance teams are still enforcing the rule, as they have done at the other two locations.

Tom Phelan owns a property half a block from 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 city’s best interests.

“I’m worried about the safety of the people there,” Phelan said. “I’m also concerned about its aesthetics and the impact it has on what I see as the emerging inner city core, which I’ve seen over 40 years evolve from a really bad place to a place where people want to come, live, hang out.”

related: City of Vancouver shares 6-month progress report on first safe housing community

Linda Glover, who has run Main Street for 20 years, said the location made sense because it was where a lot of homeless people lived anyway.

“They chose to live downtown, just like I chose to do business downtown, and we have to respect that,” Glover said. “They’re here, and instead of having them camp in different corners, walking around, being shunned or yelled at, I really think it’s wise for the city to give them a place to go and feel safe, where they can connect to service, they can take the next step to become self-sufficient citizens.”

The next online listening session will be on Wednesday at 7pm. Click here for more information and a Zoom link.

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