The Homeless Assistance and Resource Team (HART) serves as a resource to the community by addressing the impacts of unsheltered homelessness, both for those experiencing homelessness and for the rest of the community. HART’s role is to provide compassionate outreach and assistance to folks living unsheltered, and also serve as a point of contact for community members seeking a response related to issues/concerns about homelessness. That includes responding to reports of active or abandoned campsites, assessing campsites for hygiene/sanitation needs, connecting people living in camps to needed life saving and social services and resources, and educating the community about the City’s role in addressing homelessness is, as well as what the legal parameters are that we are required to work within.
The Homeless Assistance and Resources Team (HART) serves as a resource to the community, providing outreach, assessments and referrals to the appropriate services for individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition, the team serves as part of the community’s crisis response system, with a focus on homelessness-related street and encampment crises.
Use the free MyVancouver mobile app to report issues to the HART team or ask questions related to homelessness in Vancouver, including:
Non-emergency issues, such as behavioral health concerns, unwanted occupation of property, etc. For urgent issues requiring a police officer, please call 9-1-1.
Illegal camping or issues associated with active or abandoned camps.
Any questions regarding homelessness.
The app is not monitored 24 hours a day. We do our best to respond to requests within 24 hours (excluding weekend or holidays).
In 2021, Vancouver City Council approved a plan to create temporary, supportive Safe Stay Communities for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in our community. As part of this effort, the City has opened two Stay Communities in Vancouver and is working to open two more by the end of the year.
Safe Stay Communities are temporary housing communities offering residents greater access to services, increased stability, and safe, healthy, and humane living conditions to support transitioning out of homelessness. Each Safe Stay Community has 20 two-person structures that offer safe shelter for up to 40 residents. A nonprofit operator will provide 24/7 onsite management and services.
Health and safety are major priorities for the City and its partners. For this reason, all Safe Stay Communities have screening or fencing, will provide sanitation and hygiene services, and offer a range of health services on site.
Homelessness Response Plan
The City is establishing Safe Stay Communities as part of its Homelessness Response Plan. Previously referred to as supportive campsites, the city’s Safe Stay Communities use modular pallet shelters instead of tents, which offer residents warm, dry and secure surroundings where they have access to high-quality, compassionate life-saving and social services while they work to transition out of homelessness.
A Safe Stay Community In Your Neighborhood
These document are designed to help answer your questions and provide you with some resources to address concerns that may come up around a Safe Stay Community.
The Safe Stay Community at 11400 N.E. 51st Circle provides 20 modular shelters housing up to 40 people. The site is fenced and staffed 24/7 by the onsite nonprofit operator, Outsiders Inn. It includes trash receptacles and sanitation services, portable toilets and handwashing stations, meeting and office space, and access to supportive services provided by local agencies.
Prior to opening the City’s first Safe Stay Community, the property located at 11400 NE 51st Circle was the site of a sizable homeless encampment. Since the Safe Stay Community opened, the number of calls to police for service and officer-initiated activity within a 500 foot radius of the address, has dropped 30 percent over the same time period (January-June) compared to 2021. Of the other Fire/EMS-related calls for service within the same radius, the percentage responding specifically to 11400 NE 51st Circle dropped from 15.6% to 6% of the total.
Update: Students Bring Holiday Spirit, Community Building Effort to Safe Stay
Safe Stay 2 – Hope Village
The Safe Stay Community at 4915 E. Fourth Plain Blvd provides 20 modular shelters housing up to 40 people. The site is fenced and staffed 24/7 by the onsite nonprofit operator, Live Love Outreach. It includes trash receptacles and sanitation services, portable toilets and handwashing stations, meeting and office space, and access to supportive services provided by local agencies. Read the six-month report.
Coming Soon: Safe Stay 3
On Nov. 7, 2022, City Council voted 5-2 in favor of supporting staff recommendations calling for the City’s third supportive Safe Stay Community for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness to be located at 415 W. 11th Street. The approval follows a six-week community engagement and input period. The community is anticipated to open fall 2023. Learn more on Be Heard Vancouver.
Coming Soon: Safe Stay 4
On June 26, 2023, City Council approved the signing of a lease agreement with WSDOT, to use a portion of their approximately 18,750 sq. ft. property at 4611 Main St. to house the City’s fourth Safe Stay Community. The completed lease agreement was signed in September 2023, and the site is expected to open in mid-December. Like the existing Safe Stay Communities, the fourth site will provide 20 modular shelters housing up to 40 people. The site will be fenced and staffed 24/7 by the onsite nonprofit operator Do Good Multnomah. It will include trash receptacles and sanitation services, portable toilets and mobile shower/restroom units along with a contract to service the facilities. Learn more on Be Heard Vancouver.
Since 2017, the City has partnered with Share, a local non-profit, through a community cleanup grant that employs people experiencing homelessness to help address litter in the community. In addition to helping their community, the Talkin’ Trash crew, staffed by individuals who use Share’s shelter services, receive work experience and training to help in the transition from homelessness.
In 2019, Share’s Talkin’ Trash Program received the Nonprofit Network of Southwest Washington’s Nonprofit Award for Excellence in Innovation for its creative approach to helping those affected by homelessness while providing critical litter removal services to the City.
The Safe Parking Zone is an organized site where people who live in their motor vehicles can park during Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. It is located at the Evergreen Transit Center (1504 N.E. 138th Avenue), in partnership with C-TRAN.
All three entities have contributed funds to buy the hotel, and Clark County Community Services will oversee a contract with non-profit service provider Catholic Community Services of Wester Washington for the day-to-day operations.
Sanitation and Hygiene Stations
Share House W 12th and King Street Single Restroom/Hand Sanitizer Combo and ADA Restroom/Handwashing Stations
Housing Solutions Center Hotline
Are you currently in need of shelter or housing? If you are struggling to remain in your home, sleeping in your car or outside, call the Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677 to learn about available shelter and housing assistance in Clark County.
Winter Hospitality Overflow shelters provide additional overnight beds from November 1 to March 30. Call the Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677 Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for more information.
St. Andrew has a bed capacity of 50 for single women, couples and families.
The Landlord Mitigation Fund is a Washington Department of Commerce program that provides landlords with an incentive and added security to work with tenants receiving rental assistance. The program offers up to $1,000 to the landlord in reimbursement for some potentially required move-in upgrades, up to fourteen days’ rent loss and up to $5,000 in qualifying damages caused by a tenant during tenancy.
How many people are experiencing homelessness in our city?
Washington State requires each county to conduct a census of individuals experiencing homelessness. This large one-day event in January each year is called the Point in Time (PIT) Count. The PIT Count is administered by Council for the Homeless and provides a countywide count of people experiencing homelessness. The count includes individuals living unsheltered, those living in shelter, and transitional housing programs.
In January of 2020 the PIT Count reported 916 individuals experiencing homelessness countywide, including 516 unsheltered, meaning they slept in a place not meant for human habitation the night before. This was a 6% increase in unsheltered homelessness from 2019-2020, and PIT Count data shows that unsheltered homelessness has steadily increased in Clark County since 2015.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 PIT Count was altered to include only those individuals and households who were sheltered. This data was collected from our local HMIS (Homeless Management Information System) and includes data for the entirety of 2020. It shows that a total of 3,972 households experienced homelessness in Clark County in 2020.
It is difficult to get an exact number during the PIT Count because not everyone experiencing homelessness is located or chooses to participate on the day of the count. While many individuals are counted in shelter and at the Project Homeless Connect event that same day, the unsheltered PIT Count is done primarily by community outreach workers and volunteers who spend part of a day filling out surveys with individuals and households across the county. Based on informal observations in the field by the City’s Homeless Assistance and Resources Team (HART) and other community outreach workers, we believe the number of people currently experiencing unsheltered homelessness within the City of Vancouver is closer to 500-600 individuals.
What should I do if I am experiencing homelessness right now?
Contact the Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677 for shelter availability and housing assistance in Clark County. Housing Hotline Hours of Operation are:
What is the relationship between Vancouver’s Plan for Unsheltered Homelessness and Clark County’s Homeless Action Plan?
Clark County oversees implementation of the local Homeless Action Plan, which guides policy, funding and the practices of local service providers who make up our region’s homeless crisis response system. Vancouver’s plan supports implementation of the County’s Homeless Action Plan. While both are aimed at helping individuals experiencing homelessness, Vancouver’s plan also addresses the impacts of the homelessness crisis on the broader Vancouver community.
Strategies in Vancouver’s plan aim to address:
Health and sanitation for the entire Vancouver community, including unhoused residents
Access to physical, mental and behavioral health services for individuals living without shelter
Lack of safe places for people to camp as they work on housing, employment and other services
Why are we seeing so many people living outside in tents?
In addition to the shortage in deeply affordable housing, the City’s Unlawful Camping ordinance, amended in 2015, permits camping on most publicly owned land (excluding City parks and public libraries) from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., provided sidewalks and roadways are not obstructed, when shelter capacity is full. This is due to a Supreme Court ruling that declared punishing an individual experiencing homelessness for sleeping on publicly owned land, in the absence of adequate alternatives, a violation of their 8th amendment rights.
What are the City’s policies and procedures for clearing encampments?
Camp removal and displacement of people is assessed on a case-by-case basis depending on impacts to the environment, public safety and user conflicts.
Considerations include public safety, including for the people who inhabit the camps, potential for significant environmental impacts, potential user conflicts, and available resources. Clean up notices are posted at least 24 hours in advance, and several entities are often involved, such as HART, community outreach teams, Public Works, Talkin’ Trash, and sometimes code enforcement, police, fire and crisis response, if needed.
When the City of Vancouver removes an encampment on public property, we provide a minimum 72-hour notice to everyone that would be affected by the move. We look for the safest options for cleaning the camp, often hiring a contracted company that uses best practices, safe collection and trauma-informed care. Things like personal items, documents, money and jewelry are not thrown away but collected and inventoried. Service providers and other community resources are notified in advance to be on hand for support and outreach ahead of time.
Camps on private property are dealt with through our code enforcement process, but private property owners are ultimately responsible for their property.
Over the long term, our goal is that people should not have to live outside because there should be safer options and because encampments are not a long-term solution for Vancouver due to their overall impact on the community.
When will we get to a point where there are no longer encampments in the city?
While we strive for a community where no one has to live outside, we are unlikely to be able to end all homelessness. There are many factors that lead someone into homelessness. As long as there is a shortage in shelter and affordable housing, inequality in employment, inequality in housing, inequality in education, generational poverty, untreated mental health, and untreated substance use we will always have people who are marginalized and living outdoors.