Salem council approves funding, potential locations for new micro shelter village

Volunteers walk along a row of pallet shelters under construction on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem is one step closer to having another micro shelter village that would keep the city’s current sheltering capacity flat.

On Monday night, the Salem City Council unanimously approved funding for a new site and three potential locations for future micro sheltering. City leaders haven’t yet decided which of the three options they will choose to replace “Village of Hope.”

Village of Hope was the city’s first micro shelter location on 2640 Portland Rd. N.E. but the location needs to clear out by May because a property deed requirement doesn’t allow shelter at the site for more than 18 months. It opened last spring, shelters 40 people and is operated by Church at the Park.

The council approved locations at 1280 Center Street N.E., 2410 Turner Road S.E. (property owned by Church at the Park) and the northwest corner of Northeast Front and Hood Streets (property owned by Truitt Brothers).

The location on Center Street could fit about 40 shelters and has space for parking, Gretchen Bennett, the city’s homelessness liaison, explained.

The city could use the site for up to three years.

The other two locations either have shorter leases, need additional work or parking agreements with nearby neighbors.

Bennett said it would be “prudent” for the council to wait on making a final decision until she gets further along in the process.

The city plans to use some of the $10 million grant it received last year from the state Legislature for sheltering to pay for the new site.

It’s expected to cost $200,000 to start up a location and another $192,000 for a month and a half of operations.

Community members helped raise more than $600,000 to purchase the shelters. There are about 400 people on a waiting list to get into the shelters.

DJ Vincent, who runs Church at the Park which is managed the shelter sites, said it would take two months to set up a new location.

Multiple community members have asked if Marion Square Park could serve as a micro shelter village. The park is currently the site of a large homeless camp.

During Monday’s meeting, Councilor Jim Lewis put the same question to Gretchen Bennett.

Gretchen Bennett said that location is on tribal grounds and the city wouldn’t be add needed improvements like gravel.

She also said the city can’t be insured to manage tent camping, only micro shelters.

Long-term funding for the sites continues to remain an issue. The micro shelter villages funded with federal American Rescue Plan Act money in fiscal year 2022. The following year, they’re funded with a combination of federal and state grant funds.

Under that funding structure, the money runs out by fiscal year 2025.

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]. 

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