New ordinance allows safe parking for houseless people

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Sponsored by: Department of Land Use and Transportation

Ordinance LogoHouseless people who are enrolled in a program to aid in their transition to stable housing will be allowed to temporarily live in vehicles parked overnight at some religious and non-residential facilities under a safe parking ordinance adopted by the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

The Board unanimously approved Ordinance No. 867 during its regular meeting on Sept. 1. The ordinance limits vehicle camping to participating religious institution locations in urban districts and sites in nonresidential urban districts.

Ordinance requirements include:

  • Participants must be enrolled in a program designed to transition them to stable housing.
  • Parking at the site must be offered at no cost to participants.
  • A maximum of three vehicles can currently be allowed at each site. 
  • Sanitation and storage facilities must be provided on-site and must meet specific setback/siting requirements.

Programs like this have been successful in many communities helping move people into stable housing situations, said Kathryn Harrington, Chair, Washington County Board of Commissioners.

“I’m so pleased we can help facilitate this desperately needed program,” Harrington said. “There is not nearly enough affordable housing to meet the growing need in our region, and COVID-19 is putting even more financial stress on our most vulnerable community members.

“Washington County is working with Metro, our local cities and community-based organizations to deliver hundreds of new affordable housing units throughout our county, using funds approved by the region’s voters in 2018. With that backdrop, this safe parking provision is just one small, but important effort to help people and families who find themselves unhoused in our Washington County community.” 

On Aug. 5, the ordinance was recommended for approval by the Washington County Planning Commission. Learn more by reading the staff report and other information on the 2020 Land Use Ordinances webpage.

Washington County is committed to planning and protecting the uses of the land - balancing care for the natural environment, economic development, safety and community livability. 

Media Contact:

Melissa De Lyser, Public Affairs and Communications Manager