In January 2020, Salem City Council declared a housing emergency, acknowledging the dire need to increase shelter spaces for those experiencing homelessness.
The COVID-19 global pandemic added a layer of complexity to the declaration, as City leaders grappled with the predicament of increasing socially distanced overnight shelter using new CDC guidance for homeless service provides and local officials.
With limited indoor options and underdeveloped regional programming, City Council approved and offered two locations within the City's public park system to serve as temporary camping locations for Salem's unsheltered population during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Currently, both Wallace Marine and Cascade Gateway parks allow tent camping in unincorporated locations of the park only. Rules for overnight visitors include:
After 10 months of permissible camping, the City is developing a plan to carefully conclude the temporary outdoor shelter space as additional housing options and programs become available.