30 RV owners have to leave Washington County Fairgrounds as federal pandemic funds run out

By Kristian Foden-Vencil (OPB)
Dec. 26, 2020 5:02 p.m.

The program gives about 30 people a place to live

About 30 RV owners will have to drive off the Washington County Fairgrounds by the end of the month, as the county runs out of federal funding for COVID-19 relief.

The Safe Sleep RV program has been running in Hillsboro for a few months. It gives about 30 people a place to park their RVs and live during the pandemic. The site has restrooms, handwashing stations, 24/7 security and the program helps with social services.

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But Josh Crites, the assistant director of Washington County Housing Services, said federal funding from the CARES Act is expected to run out on December 30th.

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“It’s a tough time of the year and it’s never easy for these individuals and families,” said Crites. “We just need federal intervention and assistance for all those in the houseless population within our community.”

No children are living in the RV park and the county says it’s trying to work with families to find them somewhere else to live.

“This program has been extremely successful and we’re sorry to see it close for lack of a continuing, sustainable funding source,” said Crites. “We’re incredibly grateful to our partners at the City of Hillsboro for their assistance throughout the permitting process and other invaluable support to ensure the safety and security of the residents and surrounding community.”

More pandemic relief funds are expected from the federal government and some may be used to help RV owners find long-term parking.

In early August, Washington County also established the Safe Sleep Village, a temporary, managed outdoor camping location at the Westside Commons (formerly known as the Washington County Fair Complex). The program for adults sheltered over 100 individuals who previously lived at several informal camps throughout the county, with few resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Safe Sleep Village closed in November as people were transitioned to other locations throughout the county’s severe weather shelter network.

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