A 2017 study revealed there are nearly 2,300 people who are homeless in our county. Of those people, approximately 100 are veterans.
We’ve set a goal at Clackamas County to end veterans’ homelessness by 2019. As a significant step toward that goal, we’re working with Catholic Charities, and are collaborating with partners at Portland State University and City Repair to design and construct a temporary transitional shelter community.
The purpose of this project is to provide decent, safe and sanitary shelter for our veterans. As a county and community, we must be responsive to the needs of our residents. Helping people live independent, productive lives benefits the community as a whole.
Location and zoning
This pilot community is proposed to be located on a 1.5-acre parcel of land near the corner of 115th Ave. and Jennifer Street in Clackamas. The address of the pilot community is 16575 SE 115th, Clackamas, OR 97015.
The proposed site is unused industrial land is owned by the county’s Development Agency. Following a public process, the Board of County Commissioners approved zoning amendments in August 2017 to allow transitional shelter communities as a conditional use on light or general industrial land outside city limits that is owned by the county. The approved code changes expire after two years or the approval of three projects, whichever comes first.
In early December, the Land Use Hearings Officer approved the application from the county’s Department of Health, Housing & Human Services for a conditional use permit for the site.
Health, safety and transportation
Reliable shelter is integral to health, security and safety. People who are homeless suffer higher rates of premature death, illnesses, psychiatric and addictive disorders, and have a higher risk of being sexually or physically assaulted than people who have a home.
Two county departments – Health, Housing & Human Services and Transportation and Development – drafted a Health and Safety Impact Review to identify ways to promote health and safety within the community.
While there is no direct access to public transit from the proposed site, plans are underway to provide a shuttle or other form of transportation to bus stops so community members can access training, counseling, shopping, medical services and other routine needs.
Sleeping pods and amenities
The site will contain up to 30 innovatively-designed sleeping pods, a community kitchen, showers and restrooms, and a community room.
PSU School of Architecture/Portland State University
The sleeping pods, designed by Portland State University architecture students, are constructed from recycled trusses previously used for a stage at the popular Pickathon Music Festival.
The initial focus of the project is to "shelter first." This approach seeks to provide adequate shelter prior to delivering services. Once a community member receives adequate shelter, they can then access services to become increasingly self-supportive. This model supports an individual's need to keep their housing and also makes it less likely they will return to homelessness.
Services/programs under consideration include the following:
- Educational programs on such topics as resumes, financial wellness, carpentry and other skill-building
- Housing placement, renter resume development, and moving assistance
- Connecting people to community programs for needed items such as financial assistance and long-term housing
The county has set aside $300,000 to get the project started. Other county funds may be allocated as needed.
For information on other county services for veterans or people who are experiencing homelessness, please contact: