Community in Aloha divided over Safe Rest Village

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 9:46 PM PDT
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ALOHA Ore. (KPTV) - A community in Aloha is divided over a Safe Rest Village in the works. Aloha United Methodist Church is working with Washington County to create temporary transitional housing in its parking lot.

“Part of the mission of the church is to care for vulnerable people,” said Paul Richards-Kuan, of Cedar Mill Christ UMC, who spoke to FOX 12 on behalf of Aloha United Methodist Church. “The best thing you can do is wrap your arms around it. Be good neighbors. Support them. I know the County has certain ways of doing things and it can be a challenge. It’s frustrating and democracy is hard. This is a project that we all need to be in together as a community and care for these people as our neighbors. If you’re not sure about this, this would be an opportunity to care for those in Aloha.”

Richards-Kuan says some of the main concerns of residents is safety and property value going down.

“I want them to look at Portland State studies around Safe Rest Villages like these,” said Richards-Kuan. “The property values didn’t change when the Safe Rest Villages were put up in the area. In terms of safety, there has not been massive terms in change of safety. Those who live on the street are more prone to experience violence rather than be perpetrators of it.”

SEE ALSO: Safe Rest Village near completion in North Portland

The Safe Rest Village, if created, would have 30 pods; Richards-Kuan says the church’s congregation has also discussed doing more, such as supportive housing for those in the community who need help.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Emily Wintringham, who helps in the church’s community garden. “There’s a lot of people that need help in this world and it’s good to have solutions rather than judgments. If it wasn’t for housing support and the support I have in my life and wonderful people, I wouldn’t have a job, I wouldn’t be doing community gardening, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am.”

But residents near the church are frustrated.

“We are willing to help people, but this isn’t the way to do it,” said Theresa Crandall. “I feel like they are just forcing this on everybody. They are not giving us any information on the crime that could happen there, it would be a low barrier. We said we would be for it if they made it secure, but they aren’t going to watch it and there will be crime coming into our neighborhood. All we want is for people to get back to us and talk with us so we can have a normal, decent conversation because we think there is a better place for this. It’s in the middle of our neighborhood.”

“Isn’t the idea behind this to make sure that the beds are where people need to be them?” said Daniel Sumner. “I can tell you right now there are homeless in Tigard, a lot more in Hillsboro and Beaverton than there are in Hillsboro.”

Residents FOX 12 spoke with say they weren’t informed about the Safe Rest Village until it was already in the works, with concerns and questions going unanswered by the church and county. Crandall says residents have also reached out to other state elected officials.

SEE ALSO: Move-ins begin at one of Portland’s Safe Rest Village for the houseless

“They don’t want to hear from us, they don’t want to have possibilities of other solutions, they don’t care what we think,” said Craig Huck. “The main thing we are all concerned with is the church has been dishonest and disrespectful.”

A Zoom meeting is planned between officials, the church, and neighborhood residents Tuesday evening.

“If we could get them out here to speak with us and answer these questions we have instead of blowing us off, but I don’t have any faith for that,” said Crandall. “We don’t want it now. We don’t want it.”