Elected officials and community partners gathered on February 2 to celebrate the opening of the Safe Rest Village at Aloha United Methodist Church (UMC). Event attendees brought warm socks and wrote welcoming messages to greet new shelter guests who will begin moving in this week.
Utilizing new pallet shelter structures, the site will offer immediate shelter to 30 individuals, with heating and cooling installed to protect shelter guests from the elements. Shelter guests will work with the shelter operator, Open Door HousingWorks, and housing case managers to reach long-term housing goals.
“As the first Washington County shelter located in Aloha, I am proud of the partnership that made this site a reality,” said Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington. “Faith partners like Aloha UMC are showing up every day to tackle this housing crisis with a service-driven mindset. Together, we support our most vulnerable community members on their journey towards stable housing solutions.”
Pastor Keren Rodriguez said when Aloha UMC landed in this neighborhood just before then 1970s, few of the houses surrounding them now existed. The church was built on what was a hazelnut plantation and the congregation – long before her time – began dreaming about a large community of worshippers. Over time, that dream shifted.
“We’ve learned more recently that our call was never about the amount of people who showed up for our Sunday services,” she said. “Instead, it was to serve ‘the least among as,’ as we are called to in scripture.”
“We’ve already seen life-changing work happen at the other two pod shelters we operate,” said Open Door executive director Jeremy Toevs. “This site represents a new opportunity to build trust with community members who have been living unsheltered in many cases for years. At the same time, we’re eager to welcome AUMC as a partner as we work to make this site a success for our program participants and the surrounding community.”
The pallet homes were purchased by Washington County using investments from Governor Tina Kotek’s Executive Order 2023-02, which also funded the site preparations. The site is provided by Aloha United Methodist Church (UMC) for the duration of the two-year program. Ongoing operations are funded by Washington County using voter-approved Supportive Housing Services measure resources.
The Safe Rest Village at Aloha UMC is one of three pod shelter locations in Washington County and will be included within the County’s robust shelter program, which currently offers over 400 beds of shelter. Learn more about Washington County’s existing shelter capacity here.