State of emergency declared to respond to the growing crisis of homelessness
November 7, 2023
Monday, Nov. 6, the Vancouver City Council voted to ratify an emergency declaration related to homelessness. In accordance with Vancouver Municipal Code 2.12, the City Manager made the emergency declaration Friday, Nov. 3.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to address homelessness in our city,” said City Manager Eric Holmes. “While not all actions need the declaration, this mechanism will give us the agility we need to take action quickly as we continue to develop effective outreach-led, enforcement-backed solutions.”
While the City and other partners have been working to address the issue of homelessness over the last several years, the complexity and magnitude of issues related to homelessness continue to grow. The emergency declaration gives the City more flexibility to create additional solutions that can be implemented at a faster pace to save lives and to better address this public health and humanitarian crisis. It is used only in the most critical of situations.
“I know the community is anxious for solutions,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Ty Stober. “Homelessness is a complex issue and one that requires a thoughtful and comprehensive approach. This declaration will allow the City to continue to make progress with the additional flexibility we need.”
Shortly after declaring the state of emergency, the City Manager signed two initial emergency orders. The first order (Emergency Order 2023-02, Financial Authority) provides increased financial agility authorizing a streamlined process for accepting donations, accessing financial reserves for budgeting needs, and buying goods and services needed to address homelessness.
The second order (Emergency Order 2023-03, Control and Closure of Public Property and Rights-of-Way) allows the City Manager to close up to 48 acres of public property to outdoor habitation as needed while ensuring public health and sanitation needs are being addressed by (1) identifying the specific parcel(s) at issue, and (2) giving notice of the closure via (a) physical posting at the site of the property closure, and (b) online at a page on the City’s website. The order also requires compliance with the City’s tent and vehicle camping expectations on a citywide basis.
The emergency declaration becomes another tool used by the City to address homelessness. Over the years, the City has made significant progress in addressing homelessness and related issues. Some actions taken to date include:
- Creating the Homeless Assistance and Resource Team
- Developing two Safe Stay Communities with two more opening before the end of the year
- Developing a Safe Park Zone for community members living in vehicles
- Managing the clean-up of more than 115 encampments posing public health risks
- Modifying the City Code to protect environmentally sensitive areas and fire-impact areas
- Empaneling an Affordable Housing Task Force, proposing Propositions 1 and 3 to the voters of Vancouver (which established and expanded the Affordable Housing Fund)
Find more information about Vancouver’s response to homelessness and a running list of emergency orders at www.cityofvancouver.us/homelessemergency.
Contact: Tim Becker, Strategic Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org