No suprise: Albany’s official camp site for homeless people will be in a part of town that already has become something like Homeless Central.
In a press release from City Hall this morning, officials said that property at the corner of Jackson Street and Ninth Avenue best meets the requirements for the homeless camp the city council voted last month to authorize in order to meet state and federal law.
The city owns the corner property at 503 Ninth Ave. S.E., a grassy and otherwise vacant lot of 4,160 square feet. The properties flanking it, another vacant lot on Jackson and a house on Ninth, are owned by the Helping Hands homeless shelter farther down on Ninth.
The city also owns two other vacant lots nearby, 817 Jackson and 519 Ninth.
Planning for this project was still going on, city spokesman Matt Harrington said later today, but the tentative plan was to allow tents on the corner lot and vehicles at 817 Jackson.
The morning announcement said: “City-owned property at the intersection of 9th Avenue SE and Jackson Street SE was identified that best meets the requirements of HB 3115 and the new municipal code. The City will begin site preparation, develop a plan for ongoing cleanup and maintenance needs, and begin outreach soon to those affected by these changes.”
The House bill mentioned takes effect July 1. It says cities can’t enforce no-camping rules unless they provide a place for homeless people to stay.
Under an ordinance the Albany council passed on May 24, the city manager is to designate a permitted camping site and may also allow churches and “transitional shelter groups” to host camp sites, with requirements on space, sanitation and other things.
Outside those designated places, camping on public or private property remains illegal.
The properties at Ninth and Jackson are all zoned “light industrial.” The block involved here is below the Pacific Boulevard viaduct, hemmed in by the highway on two sides and industrial uses on the other two. All but two properties on the block are owned by the city of Albany or Helping Hands.
Down the block on Jackson, there’s the Second Chance homeless shelter operated by C.H.A.N.C.E., a nonprofit recovery organization.
The city said: “Staff from the community development, fire, police, parks and recreation, and public works departments evaluated City-owned properties that met the criteria of HB 3115 and were located near existing services like those offered by City partners such as C.H.A.N.C.E. and Helping Hands.”
Route 2 of the Albany Transit System goes right past the corner lot. It circles through most of Albany before it gets to any services, but this and other routes will be replaced soon by routes intended to be more direct. (hh)