PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Pastor Dwight Minnieweather with Straightway Services has been serving the local youth and homeless throughout Portland for more than twenty years.
The non-profit said that when they learned they’d been selected by the county to run the new Safe Park Village site in Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood, they couldn’t wait to serve this community.
“In our community, it’s us looking out for the less fortunate,” Minnieweather said. “When we find those that need, when we give back, that’s when we’re meeting our moral integrity and responsibility.”
Straightaway Services Vice President Latoya said when they read the news, they both started to cry because “for this opportunity, for a pastor that has been doing this work for so long, and building the trust with the community, actually happening, finally, is just a blessing in itself.”
The county says their contract with Straightway Services will be funded by the Metro Supportive Housing Services program.
Available by appointment only, the gated village is slated to have 24-hour staffing, wrap around services and space for nearly 30 cars.
Located just off Stark Street, the site at 333 SE 82nd Avenue used to be an RV sales lot, but the county says RVs are not allowed.
“RVs get a lot of attention for vehicle homelessness, but there are folks in passenger vehicles who are very quietly moving their cars trying to keep them running…but looking for that safe place to park so they might need the stability to get back to where they’re going, and this is a nice little waystation for that,” said Denis Theriault, Multnomah County’s deputy communications director.
But not everyone is excited. A group of local residents and businesses known as the ‘Montavilla Neighbors’ are hosting a town hall this saturday to oppose the site.
KOIN 6 reached out to the group and neighbors for comment, but did not hear back. We also asked Straightway Services what they had to say about stakeholder concerns.
“They think that they’re going to just be placed there, and nothing’s gonna happen,” Minnieweather said. “They’re just gonna lay around there and tear up their neighborhood. No, we’re building a community. That’s why it’s called the light community.”