City Council Focuses on Winding Down Camping, Increasing Shelter Options

We’re working to wind down park camping at Cascades Gateway and Wallace Marine parks in a legal and humane way. The camping program began  to allow for safe distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will end June 1, 2021 under an extension of the COVID-19 emergency declaration approved Monday by the Salem City Council. 

The City and our community partners have been working to help campers find services and alternate shelter, and to develop other shelter options for campers, since well before the June 1 date was set earlier this year. For the past 14 months, the City has provided campers with potable water and toilets.  

Local advocates and organizations have provided services, and caseworkers have worked to connect campers to healthcare, vaccine clinics, housing, and other services.  The ‘cash for trash’ program helped with day-to-day garbage collection.  As garbage accumulated and public health concerns grew, the City collected garbage and maintained park spaces.   

The lack of enough shelter has been a barrier to relocating campers.  As a result, a complete end of camping in City parks and public areas, whether legal or illegal, is unlikely in the near future. Reduction of camping at Cascades Gateway and Wallace Marine parks will be a gradual process. 

In other housing actions, the City Council approved a real estate agreement with United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley for surplus City property to develop small cottages for low-income seniors. 

The six lots near Market Street NE and Swegel Road NE are property left over from street improvements in that area. The sale benefits the City and the public by lowering barriers to the development of affordable housing.  

Salem Housing Authority’s monthly report indicated that the organization continues to help 3,194 households with public housing (230), affordable housing (354),  and housing vouchers (2,610).  


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