Vancouver begins removing and cleaning up homeless camps

“People don’t just disappear,” Spinelli said. “When we make them leave a certain area, they move to the next block or the next available land.”

Camp moves and cleanups can be traumatic for the people living there, especially those with mental health issues, but Chavers said they were necessary to keep everyone safe. In 2021, about 30 people died while homeless in Clark County, according to the Council for the Homeless.

“Most of the people who are not safe on the outside that we have relationships with, they were happy to see that it was time to clean everything up because they know they can come back eventually,” said Chavers said. “We will continue to educate people on the expectations for how much stuff can accumulate. It will just be an ongoing process, much like we have done in the past. But we just can’t afford to let it get so big and so out of control when it comes to the amount of waste. »

New options are developing

More and more shelter options are available in Clark County, such as Safe Stay Communities, shelters in renovated hotels, clusters of tiny homes, and the Safe Parking Zone. On May 16, the Vancouver Housing Authority held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a three-storey, 40-unit assisted living facility which, when it opens soon, will provide essential housing and support for formerly homeless people with complex behavioral and physical health. challenges, according to Roy Johnson, executive director of the Vancouver Housing Authority.

Eventually, Chavers said, he hopes homelessness as it exists today will be eradicated from Clark County.

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