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The city of Portland, Oregon, is considering opening large homeless camps where tents will be replaced with costly “sleeping pods,” according to a report.
The Democrat-run city plans to create six “mass” homeless tent camps over the next three years.
However, it is presently considering equipping them with sleeping pods instead of tents, which will be paid for with money from the state of Oregon, Fox News reported.
“Tents will work. But if we can also find a quick way to fund and deliver pods — that would certainly be an improvement, from my perspective,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told a virtual town hall meeting earlier this week.
Wheeler’s plan for the six new large outdoor camps is supposed to allow him to eventually prohibit homeless camping in all public spaces in the city.
Oregon’s Democrat Governor, Tina Kotek, has already warned that Portland’s new homeless camps would not be eligible for funding from the state’s $200 million program on homelessness and house spending because using tents wouldn’t meet its habitability requirements.
Portland Mayor Wheeler’s spokesperson Cody Bowman revealed the city was exploring the “sleeping pods” and other options.
“We hope to have a role in deciding where these funds are directed. We will advocate that investments go toward the mayor’s temporary alternative shelter sites if eligible,” Bowman said.
The Portland City Council has already allocated $27 million for building three of the six tent camps and operating them for one year.
Part of the funding will go to the city office that will clean the camps and for hiring homeless outreach workers. In addition, the city plans to build three more encampments in the next two years.
The Portland mayor has admitted that the city couldn’t fund its homeless camp plan alone and is looking for help from the county, regional government, and the state.
The plan enjoys over 80% of city residents’ support, as does a ban on homeless camping in public spaces.
Portland has considered the use of sleeping pods before. Last year, Portland State University published a study that concluded that people who lived in the pods were “largely satisfied” with the accommodations.
The report also claimed that the neighbors of pod-based homeless villages gradually became less concerned about them.
“Most neighbors who reported concerns… when they first learned of villages being located in their neighborhood reported no longer having those concerns after living near the village,” it said.
The nation’s oldest and longest-running community of “tiny houses” – a pod village – was set up in 2000.
According to the study, it has 45 pods and about 60 inhabitants, and its operation costs some $33,000 per year.
In an Oregon Public Broadcasting interview, its lead author, Toddy Ferry, recognized that the pod villages provoke “a reaction from neighbors.”
However, he argued that “we shouldn’t give so much attention to how neighbors feel about it” because many change their opinions over time.
Portland mulls costly plan to build shed-like sleep 'pods' at homeless camps https://t.co/z2wd4GcrxU
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 23, 2023