Item Coversheet
Item #2.

Staff Report: 175-23


Mayor and City Council


Eric Holmes, City Manager




Amend Contractual Amount with Outsiders Inn for Safe Stay Communities 1 and 3
Key Points
  • Unsheltered homelessness has continually increased and has significant negative impacts on unhoused residents themselves, the broader community, and the natural environment. 
  • Our community does not have shelter capacity to meet the growing need. 

  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that cities cannot criminalize camping in all places, at all times, unless there is adequate access to temporary shelter (Martin v. Boise).  

  • Revisions to Chapter 8.22 VMC “Camping” have been made to implement a Safe Stay Community Pilot Program.  

  • Establishment of Safe Stay Communities increases health, sanitation, and livability for all Vancouver residents, businesses, and visitors. 

  • Outsiders Inn successfully manages and provides supportive services at our first Safe Stay Community, The Outpost. 

  • Current local workforce capacity is not sufficient to meet the need in this field due to burnout and insufficient pay. 

  • Outsiders Inn provides low-barrier re-entry employment opportunities that put individuals with lived experience on a path to a career in social services, and competitive wages/benefits are needed to attract and retain those employees. 

  • State legislature is changing certification and pay requirements for Peers state-wide, and Outsiders Inn is preparing to come into alignment with those eventual requirements. 

  • The addition of a Client Housing Support Fund is needed to assist Safe Stay residents with reducing housing barriers and quickly obtaining permanent housing when ready. 

  • City staff is requesting to amend their current contract to increase budget for Safe Stay Communities 1 and 3. 

Strategic Plan Alignment
Economic Opportunity - a place where a wide variety of businesses of all sizes grow and thrive.
Housing and Human Needs – meeting basic needs and partnering with organizations to support the community.

Present Situation
An estimated 500-600 individuals reside in tents or vehicles within the City of Vancouver, which poses significant health and safety risks to the individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, as well as the rest of the community and the environment. At this time, our community does not have an adequate supply of shelter or housing options to meet the growing need. This Council has observed that many individuals who live outdoors on public property do so, not by choice, but due to a lack of financial means to afford adequate shelter. These individuals are adversely mentally and physically impacted by outdoor habitation. Single female encampment occupants experience a disproportionately high incidence of violent crime as compared to other people. Families with children who live outdoors as a result of a lack adequate shelter are also disproportionately adversely impacted through risk of physical danger and impediments to childhood education.


Simultaneously, Council has also observed that the City’s sensitive ecological areas are adversely impacted by secondary impacts of outdoor habitation. The City’s sensitive waterways, water treatment facilities, stormwater and wastewater facilities are particularly vulnerable to impacts of illegal dumping and improper disposal of human waste. Additionally, individuals living outdoors in greenways and wooded areas, who utilize fire as a source of heat, or to cook with, increase the potential for wildfire in those areas, particularly during our dry/summer months.


In an effort to reduce the aforementioned negative impacts of unsheltered homelessness, provide for greater safety, stability, and access to needed services for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, and to remain in compliance with Martin v. Boise, this Council has approved the establishment of city-sponsored Safe Stay Communities in designated areas. These Communities are managed and supported by a contracted service provider who works to ensure safety and sanitation within and immediately surrounding the designated Community, assist Safe Stay Community residents with obtaining stability, accessing needed resources, and transitioning into a more permanent housing situation, and proactively engage with the surrounding neighborhood(s) to mitigate potential negative impacts to the neighborhood, facilitate neighborhood participation and volunteer opportunities within the designated Community, and encourage participation in neighborhood/community events, neighborhood association meetings, etc. amongst Safe Stay Community residents.


This field of work, both locally and across the country, has struggled to maintain the workforce capacity necessary to meet the growing need. Organizations experience high rates of turnover and consistent unfilled job openings, largely due to employee burnout and inadequate pay. It is very common for outreach workers, case managers, and Peers to need the very same resources or supports they assist their clients with accessing due to the continually rising cost of living.


Outsiders Inn is not only a direct service provider, but they’ve also been working to provide training and low-barrier re-entry employment opportunities to individuals with lived experiences with homelessness, mental health, substance use, justice involvement, and recovery, as well as increase our local workforce capacity in this field. The Washington State legislature, also recognizing this need, passed new legislation last year to create an actual profession of certified Peer Specialists vs. a simple certification, in an effort to address the workforce shortage and expand access to Peer services. A committee was created to make recommendations regarding implementation, and those recommendations include ensuring that organizations employing Peers are paying their Peers a living wage and creating a variety of certification types.


Additionally, while intended to provide greater opportunities for individuals with lived experience, some of the impacts of this legislation include doubling fees for licensing, adding a requirement for continuing education, which there will be fees for, and adding experience requirements of between 1000-1500 supervised hours for full certification. In preparation for the rollout of these requirements, Outsiders Inn has created a tiered pay structure for employees re-entering the workforce and building their skills and experience (hours they will eventually need for certification). Their new pay structure, included in the proposed contract amendment, is needed to attract and retain entry level employees, retain long-term/more experienced Peers that assist with training new staff, and come into alignment with what the new Peer requirements will be. Along with a more competitive and living wage, Outsiders Inn is looking to offer more meaningful healthcare/insurance benefits than they’ve previously been able to offer as a smaller, but growing, organization.


Other budget amendments, while not significantly changing the total amount requested, are the addition of a Client Housing Support Fund, and reallocation of unutilized or underutilized line items from the prior budget. For example, not knowing if contracted security would be needed, it has historically been budgeted for. After nearly two years of operating, Outsiders Inn is confident that contracted security is not needed. However, they have experienced challenges and delays in getting people into housing, or addressing some barriers to housing, due to the limited availability of funding for things like move-in costs/deposits, application fees, utility debt, etc. In the current housing market, having immediate access to those funds can be the difference between obtaining housing and remaining in shelter for a significantly longer period of time.

  1. Outsiders Inn is a Peer-run organization, with supportive services delivered by trained individuals who also have lived experiences with homelessness, mental/behavioral health, and demonstrated recovery.
  2. Outsiders Inn is an existing city contractor, and successfully operates The Outpost-Safe Stay Community, as well as shelter at St. Paul Lutheran Church and Mail Service for unhoused City residents and is contracted to operate the third Safe Stay Community when site construction is complete.
  3. Safe Stay Communities serve as a temporary bridge while more permanent housing and shelter options are implemented; the first annual review of The Outpost shows that 41% of the residents served in that time period exited to permanent housing.
  4. Because these sites are managed, our community has seen a decrease in solid waste, encampments in unsafe spaces, and negative environmental impacts.
  5. Because these sites are supported, residents have greater access to services, increased stability, and more safe, healthy, and humane living conditions as they work to resolve their homelessness.
  6. Outsiders Inn is successfully assisting individuals with barriers to re-enter the workforce and helping to expand our workforce capacity to meet the growing need.
  7. The creation of a Client Housing Support Fund will assist with more and/or quicker exits to housing at these sites, which frees up shelter space for other individuals living without shelter.

None at this time.
Budget Impact
This request is to amend the contract with the Outsiders Inn to support Safe Stay 1 and 3 from October 2023 to September 2024. Current budget for onsite management is $2.4 million for the Biennium. The additional amount needed for the contract increase will be requested in the Fall Supplemental (~200k). 

It is highly likely, that additional budgetary request will be submitted during the next supplemental appropriation to complete the setup of all five sites. 

Prior Council Review

Action Requested

Approve the amendment of a professional services contract with Outsiders Inn of Vancouver, WA, and to authorize the City Manager, or their designee, to execute a contract for delivery of supportive services and site management at city-sanctioned Safe Stay Communities 1 and 3.


Jamie Spinelli, Homeless Response Manager, 360-487-8610


Services Agreement #C-100727 Amendment No. 2
Amendment 1
Contract - executed
Outsiders Inn Budget for Safe Stay 1 for October 2023 - September 2024
Outsiders Inn Budget for Safe Stay 3 for October 2023 - September 2024
September 2022 - 2023 Safe Stay 1 and Safe Stay 3 budget
The Outpost 1-Year Review