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Wilmington city council will consider 200 new temporary shelter beds proposed for Wilmington's southside

Wilmington City Hall.
Wilmington City Hall.

Wilmington City Council will consider adding shelter pods for the homeless to a downtown location at an upcoming council meeting.

At this week’s council agenda meeting, city staffer Rachel LaCoe presented an unsolicited proposal from Eden Village to set up “god pods” on a tract of city-owned land on the southside.

The God Pods are small, temporary structures that resemble sheds; they would provide low-barrier overnight shelter for $10 a night (donation-funded vouchers could also be used). Eden Village proposes 200 of them for a location between 16th and 17th streets, currently used as a kind of storage depot for the city.

LaCoe said the location is dangerous for pedestrians and not zoned for camping, and added that it may concentrate poverty to locate so many unhoused individuals in that neighborhood.

“Staff is recommending tonight declining the proposal to allow staff to create a balanced and comprehensive strategic approach to prioritizing the city support of emergency shelter facilities with the need for day-night facilities and permanent housing," LaCoe said.

She gave several options for what to do from there: refusing Eden Village's proposal outright, selling off the property and using the proceeds to fund shelter, or accepting the proposal and moving forward with a timeline to operate temporarily in winter, pending insurance requirements.

Despite staff’s recommendation, council members seemed interested in moving forward with the project, if not in this location, then somewhere else. Councilman Luke Waddell said there’s a severe need for short-term shelter, and Mayor Bill Saffo agreed. However, the mayor suggested having 200 people in one small area is unmanageable, and would upset the neighbors.

Councilman Kevin Spears suggested the city provide the land alone, and that other entities step in to fund services.

The item’s discussion concluded with directions for staff to create a business plan alongside Eden Village and bring it back to the council for a vote.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.