New Safe Rest village in North Portland causing issues for neighbors

The Safe Rest Village in North Portland is located on North Syracuse Street.
Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:05 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The Peninsula Crossing Safe Rest Village is barely one week old and neighbors are already noticing what they call concerning activity.

The Safe Rest Village in North Portland is located on North Syracuse Street. People who live on that street and on neighboring North Macrum Avenue told FOX 12 over the last eight days there have been dozens of people wandering the area late at night and criminal activity.

After a press conference last month where Urban Alchemy, the California non-profit running the site, and the city reassured community members their concerns were being addressed, there was optimism. But that optimism has evaporated.

Gary is one of those neighbors who is fed up with the increase of concerning activity.

“It’s been pretty hectic around here,” Gary said. “We’ve seen some of the drug dealers here and people are very blatant. They do drugs right in front of us. We have noise going all night long.”

A video shared with FOX 12 from one of Gary’s neighbors illustrates some of the activity. It shows a group of people, Gary says lives at the Safe Rest Village, gathering around a car. Another red car drives by and an object is passed between them. Gary said late in the afternoon, the same cars will show up and some who live in the Safe Rest Village will approach them.

“We got to keep watching the cars that go up and down here because I know which ones to look out for,” Gary said. “We had one drug dealer park up right over here. He sat there in his car for most of the day. People walked up for five seconds and walked back out again.”

Other neighbors that live on North Syracuse Street said they were told there was a 10 p.m. curfew. But they said that’s not the case. They claim illegal drug activity is happening into the early morning hours.

“At the press conference I did bring this up, I did ask this question about what’s going to happen to the drug problem once this actually opens up,” Gary said. “I was reassured that wasn’t going to happen.”

Gary said he understands the need for a safe place for the unhoused to call home. But said the frustration lies with the lack of communication from the city and Urban Alchemy from the beginning.

“For the stakeholders, I feel like they don’t give a crap about us,” Gary said. “Excuse my language. I just feel like we were thrown to the wolves.”

The city sent FOX 12 a statement:

“The City has been speaking with neighbors throughout the week and are aware of their concerns. We are actively working with other bureaus and partners, including Urban Alchemy, to address current and ongoing needs. We have learned a great deal from opening other Safe Rest Villages, yet we know that every site is unique and requires us to adapt our approaches to the local communities. We are confident that this village will provide benefits to people experiencing homelessness and to the surrounding community.

Urban Alchemy has sent FOX 12 a statement as well:

The Peninsula Crossing Safe Rest Village is providing life-saving housing and services to 68 Portlanders who were suffering on the street just a week ago. Urban Alchemy is proud of the work we have done in collaboration with the City of Portland to bring it online. We are taking immediate steps to add two more practitioners per shift to provide safety and service monitoring and engage the areas surrounding the safe sleep to determine illicit activity.

“Prior to moving into this Safe Rest Village, the residents had all been encamped together along the PCT adjacent to the site. Large encampments aren’t just groups of tents – they’re highly vulnerable and entrenched communities that can become hubs for unsafe and illegal activity.

“That’s why we cleared this encampment, and why it’s so critical that we keep moving unhoused Portlanders indoors as quickly and urgently as we can. But moving whole communities inside together is also a highly sensitive and complex process. The site has only been open for a week, and we’re confident in the work we’re doing to adjust as residents settle into a new space in a safe, supportive community.” - Kirkpatrick Tyler