Alternative shelter

Montavilla Safe Park Village

Updated August 2023

As part of its commitment to help address the ongoing need for additional shelter capacity in Portland and Multnomah County, the Joint Office of Homeless Services is converting the property at 333 S.E. 82nd Ave. into a “safe park” site for people living in passenger vehicles (not RVs). The site will provide services, common spaces, individual sleeping units and parking spaces for people experiencing homelessness who live in vehicles.

Nonprofit provider Straightway Services will provide on-site 24/7 services paired with safe parking and sleeping for adults 18 and over experiencing vehicular homelessness. The site will be fenced and will be available through referrals/reservations. Participants will have on-site access to trash service, showers, restrooms, laundry, a kitchenette, individual sleeping units, and housing services and supports. The site design is intentionally prioritizing accessibility for people with disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the Montavilla Safe Park shelter.

Site information

What is the Joint Office’s plan for a safe park site at 333 S.E. 82nd Ave.?

Montavilla Safe Park will be the Joint Office’s first safe parking site, intentionally located in East Portland and operated by a culturally specific provider, Straightway Services. The site will serve people experiencing vehicular homelessness, who tend to have higher rates of disability and other challenges.

The design for the Safe Park site places importance on equity, accessibility, and quality of life to provide person-centered services. Serving a maximum of 30 passenger vehicles, the program will be available to up to 40 participants (individuals and couples) experiencing vehicular homelessness in passenger cars only. The site will include on-site sleeping shelters, in addition to parking spaces for participants.

Hygiene facilities, laundry, storage, and offices will be provided in service facilities using repurposed shipping containers, pre-manufactured by CC915, a company that customizes and builds out shipping containers, that has been used, and successfully permitted, with the City of Portland at the Peninsula Crossing Safe Rest Village.

Pallet Shelter sleeping units were added to the plans for the site to address concerns about participants’ health and about vehicle camping. The Joint Office currently owns Pallet Shelters, located in storage, that will be used for this program.

The safe park model, which pairs a secure place to park vehicles with on-site services and housing supports, has been successfully deployed in other parts of the country and is becoming a model used for Portland alternative shelters, including the Sunderland Safe Rest Village, developed in partnership with the Joint Office, which serves people living in RVs.

This site is part of an overall shelter expansion funded by Multnomah County and the Joint Office. The Joint Office’s shelter expansion work is part of its “housing-first but not housing-only”  strategy for addressing homelessness that centers housing paired with wraparound services, while still building out short-term shelter options. Since 2020, the Joint Office has opened 17 shelters in the community, including alternative shelter options like the nearby Beacon Village and WeShine’s Parkrose Village.

Is this a Safe Rest Village?

It is not a Safe Rest Village. “Safe Rest Village” — while sometimes used as a generic term for an alternative, village-style or pod shelter — refers to that specific City of Portland shelter program, which is operated in partnership with the Joint Office. However, the service model for the site will closely resemble existing alternative shelters developed and funded by the County and the City of Portland. That includes Safe Rest Villages, such as the Menlo Park Safe Rest Village that’s operated by Joint Office partner Cultivate Initiatives.

Operating expenses will be similar to those of a Safe Rest Village, but developing this site carries some additional costs compared to a Safe Rest Village. That’s primarily for two reasons:

  • The Montavilla program is prioritizing ADA requirements around disability access by providing larger hygiene, kitchen, laundry and common  spaces to help facilitate access to all participants.
  • Montavilla Safe Park also will provide additional office space to better allow the program to meet its clients’ services needs. 

Is this a camp?

No. This will be a managed alternative shelter, available to people who currently live in their vehicles. The goal is to provide a safe place for people to live off the streets and connect to services that put them on the path to permanent housing.

Increasing options for low-barrier alternative shelters means that fewer people have to resort to unsanctioned camping. 

How are plans for the site taking shape?

The Joint Office, Multnomah County Facilities and Carleton Hart Architecture are working to develop a final proposed site plan in partnership with Straightway Services. The goal for the site plan is to mitigate concerns around the proximity of parking, sleeping units and hygiene services to neighboring properties. 

Some of the principles applied to the design work include:

  • Placing the main entry is at the north, closest to the services that guests would be using offsite
  • Ensuring the office has good visibility over the site
  • Placing bathrooms in multiple locations around the site so that no guest has far to walk
  • Situating hygiene, kitchen and laundry away from the neighboring properties
  • Locating most guest parking spots away from the neighboring properties
  • Centering ADA accessibility and privacy
  • Prioritizing trauma-informed design
  • Contributing to equitable service delivery in East Portland — where there is a particularly high concentration of vehicular homelessness 

The site is planned to feature 29 individual sleeping units, which would be intentionally arranged around the main common area, with 30 parking spaces (including 8 accessible spaces per ADA standards). Other elements include a kitchenette, two storage containers, two offices, two restroom/shower units, a laundry unit, a covered common area and a pet relief area. The site is planned to serve up to 40 participants (including couples).

A total of four toilets and four showers are planned. The ratio of participants to showers and participants to toilets is a maximum of 10:1.  

Accessibility for people with disabilities is a high priority for the design of this site. The site design is planned to feature wheelchair accessible parking spaces for 27% of participants, significantly higher than the 10% required by code. A minimum of 27% of the individual sleeping units are planned to have ramps and landings, and 50% of the hygiene units are planned to feature roll-in showers. All community facilities are planned to have ramps and landings.  

The covered common area will be a metal structure similar to structures that have been permitted at Safe Rest Village sites. It will serve as an outdoor gathering space with protection from rain and sun.

The existing building on the site was considered for remodeling for use providing a common space and hygiene facilities. However, a review by Multnomah County Facilities determined that the remodeling costs would exceed the development budget. The project team decided instead to demolish the building.

When will the site open?

Construction, including the demolition of the site’s existing  building, must be completed before the site can open.

Here is an updated rough timeline of some select key dates, as of August 2023:

  • Design Development & Construction Documents: July – September 2023
  • City Permitting Process : September – November 2023
  • Request Funding for Construction:  September 2023  
  • Competitive bidding – Contract Award: October 2023
  • Construction Start:  November 2023
  • Construction Completion: March 2024
  • Opening: April 2024

The opening date is later than initially anticipated, because of the required demolition of a structure on the site, and the careful and deliberate process the Joint Office is using, along with our site architects and engineers, to ensure that electric, water, sewage and disability accessibility are all given the priority needed to ensure the safety and success of the site.

Provider information

Who will be managing the site? How did the selection process work?

The Joint Office is developing a contract with nonprofit provider Straightway Services. Some programming details and specifics will be determined only after the contract is finalized.

Straightway Services is a culturally specific provider focused on serving Black communities. While the site will not be focused on serving a particular population, contracting with culturally specific providers helps ensure our services meet the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and other historically underserved populations.

In early 2022, the Shelter Development team at the Joint Office began searching for sites to use as a Safe Parking program. The idea for a Safe Parking program had been discussed since 2019, but only as designated overnight parking spots in church parking lots. The difference this time is that the Joint Office would be investing in a services-focused, 24/7 shelter model, with a contracted provider and other amenities.  

A Notice of Funding Availability for Alternative Shelter and Safe Parking Programs was released on Oct. 31, 2022, initiating the application and selection process for a provider. Straightway Services was the sole applicant.

Their application was reviewed and met the necessary benchmarks for Straightway Services to become a qualified provider, and in January 2023, JOHS began contract negotiations with Straightway Services to operate the program. 

There are very few programs like this in the Pacific Northwest, and Straightway has been a great partner in developing this relatively new service modality. 

Does the service provider have any connections to the community, the business community, or the local homeless population?

Yes! Straightway Services has worked for years in Portland providing support to poor people and underserved populations, mainly focusing on the African American community. The following includes some of the programs operated by Straightway Services.

Toys for Families In Need

During the winter holidays, Straightway Services provides toys, games and more to low-income families donated by FOX 12 and Les Schwab. Straightway Services also has a birthday program that allows families to apply to receive gifts for their children on their birthday.

Weekly Food Pantry

In partnership with Birches Community Services, Straightway Services offers a weekly opportunity to the North-Northeast area by providing food boxes and groceries every week.

Clothes Closet

Straightway Services helps provide clothing for houseless community members, along with coaching on resume and cover letter writing and help with job applications.

Work Boot Program

For 15 years, Straightway Services has been providing work boots to people looking for work in the construction industry.

Houseless Support

Straightway Services provides food boxes, hygiene kits, PPE (Personal protective equipment), COVID-19 vaccine assistance and many other needed resources to the houseless community.

Addiction Recovery Support

Straightway Services provides weekly 12-step meetings in support of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Youth Employment Division

For over 15 years Straightway Services has partnered with the Portland Water Bureau and IRCO as part of a summer work program to provide our youth with firsthand job experience 

Weekly Men’s Groups

Straightway Services provides a weekly men’s group to deal with the issues of traumatic reentry from a culturally-specific space.

On-site services

What will the safe park site provide?

The site will offer:

  • A safe, managed place for Portlanders experiencing vehicular homelessness to sleep and park their vehicles on their paths to housing. 
  • Support addressing basic needs, including hygiene services, case management and housing navigation.
  • Access to treatment for unmet behavioral health needs, including help accessing treatment for mental health challenges and substance use disorders.
  • Reduced impact for neighbors currently experiencing unsanctioned vehicular camping in their community.
  • Full staffing with security fencing — only participants and their registered guests will be allowed to enter the village.
  • Locations for communal gathering, a kitchenette, and yet-to-be-determined site amenities (e.g., raised bed gardens or mini-libraries).
  • Opportunities for participants to build community with the surrounding neighborhood.

The site will NOT be:

  • A place for unsanctioned camping.
  • A permanent housing location. This village is an alternative shelter and will support the transition to permanent housing or permanent supportive housing programs.
  • A self-managed site. This village will be managed by nonprofit provider Straightway Services. Participants will have the opportunity to directly shape and guide the community they build together.

Will the site provide wheelchair accessibility for participants with mobility issues?

Yes! This site is focused on providing that accessibility. See the site plan response above for more details.

Will participants with substance use disorders receive support to overcome addiction?

Straightway Services, the contracted provider for this site, has worked in the community for decades, and been successful in helping community members overcome substance use disorders.

Community engagement

What kind of engagement has happened so far? Will there continue to be community engagement as the plan advances? How has engagement so far affected the plan?

Safe, high-quality services for unsheltered adults. Photo of empty dealership lot.
This mailer was sent to neighbors in early 2023.

Like the majority of shelter sites, dating back several years, and across jurisdictions — including Joint Office sites, Safe Rest Villages and the Mayor’s TASS sites — community outreach began once the site location was in hand. 

The Joint Office is actively in conversations with neighborhood and business groups in Montavilla and the 82nd Avenue corridor, attending meetings and making other connections. The Joint Office will continue to share information with the community about the developing plan, along with donation and volunteer engagement opportunities.

In September 2022, the County spoke with Jacob Loeb of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, who also writes for the Montavilla News site. His input directly helped with the creation of this FAQ  webpage, and a postcard mailer sent to 2,751 households near the site.

Map area showing area that received mailers.
Postal carrier routes (marked in blue) received the mailer, through our vendor, Metro PreSort.

Early meetings included members of the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ Shelter Development Team and Communications Team and the Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA). In early April, the JOHS and Straightway Services joined the MNA board meeting for introductions and questions. Subsequent meetings included leaders from the Montavilla Collective and the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association. 

As additional information about the site and provider became available, updates were made on this FAQ page and were shared in meetings. Representatives from the County attended in-person events in March 2023, including then-Commissioner Diane Rosenbaum’s participation in a community event hosted by Saints Peter & Paul Church, a neighboring community service provider located across the street from the future shelter site. Rev. Sarah Fischer also contributed a quote supporting the program in a Joint Office news release in March.

The Joint Office and Straightway Services will continue to engage with stakeholders about the site and program, offering updates as more information becomes available.

Feedback from our community engagement efforts is being incorporated into our work. Some examples:

  • The west side of the site has a proposed buffer of 10 feet between the property line and site amenities.
  • The storage unit and pet relief area are situated in the southwest corner as a further buffer against nuisance as we expect these amenities to have lower traffic than other site elements.  

This builds on lessons learned from community feedback on other sites such as the Peninsula Crossing Safe Rest Village.

How are sites like this generally selected?

In summer 2022, the Shelter Development team at the JOHS began searching for sites to use as a safe parking program. The idea for a safe parking program had been discussed since 2019, but initially only as designated overnight parking spots in church parking lots.

The difference this time is that the JOHS would be investing in a services-focused, 24/7 shelter model, with a contracted provider and other amenities.

The site search followed a list of criteria for alternative shelter that includes:

  • Minimum size of 3,000 square feet
  • Flat, accessible surface/walkways
  • Existing structures and/or possibility to develop the site to support accessory units such as hygiene units, a kitchenette, laundry facilities, and community areas. 
  • Proximity to other social services, public transit and stores
  • No history of environmental hazards that would impact the site being used for residential purposes
  • Not located in a flood plain

The Joint Office works with a contracted broker to identify potential shelter locations for purchase or lease. Joint Office employees working in shelter development, who also have direct experience working in shelters, visit potential sites and assess them based on the set of criteria mentioned above.

Why is a shelter site like this necessary?

We are in a crisis that requires creating urgent new options that help people leave the streets for safer and more humane location where they can access shelter and services that will support them as they work to return to housing and stability. 

Alternative shelters like this reflect what we have learned throughout our emergency response to homelessness. Congregate shelters work well and provide services and stability for many people, but not every unsheltered person is willing or able to live in a congregate shelter environment.

The Joint Office believes our shelter system should offer a range of models so we can offer the best options for as many people as possible. This safe park model provides individuals experiencing homelessness with safety and stability on a short-term basis while working to access permanent housing.

This site also will meet a need for people who have mobility issues and wheelchair accessibility. (See the response above on the site design, which details planned accessibility enhancements for parking spaces, individual sleeping shelters, hygiene spaces and community buildings.)

And, in general, having alternative shelter sites in neighborhoods across the county helps ensure those options fit the needs of as many people experiencing homelessness as possible.

How will safety concerns be addressed?

The site will be staffed 24/7 and include security fencing. Only participants and their registered guests will be allowed to enter the village. Safety for both participants and neighbors will be ensured through staff training, regular perimeter walks to identify security concerns both inside and outside the gate, strategic lighting, and more.

Like any good neighbor, and like any other social services provider, an alternative shelter must be responsible for safe and effective property management that ensures safety for the guests of the village and the village’s neighbors. The Joint Office is committed to ensuring that the program succeeds for its residents and for the community.

How will this alternative style shelter affect the community?

Like any site, whether commercial, residential, or industrial, alternative shelters must be well-run to succeed, not just for their neighbors but for their participants.

We hold our operators to high standards and support them to ensure their success. The Joint Office has opened dozens of shelters since 2016, in neighborhoods ranging from the Pearl District to Mill Park, including motels, villages and traditional congregate shelters. Some are in commercial districts among businesses, others are in residential neighborhoods, and others are close to schools and parks. 

While it’s common for neighboring businesses and residents to be hesitant about a new shelter opening in their neighborhood, many celebrate and support the shelter sites once they are operational.

The Joint Office believes that just because someone has lost their housing, they shouldn’t have to lose their community, too. We’re grateful for the neighbors who welcome shelter participants into their communities.