A prominent Portland real estate family steps up to help the cit - KPTV - FOX 12

A prominent Portland real estate family steps up to help the city’s homeless

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Vacant property that may be used as temporary homeless shelter. Vacant property that may be used as temporary homeless shelter.

A prominent Portland real estate family is stepping up to help the city’s homeless, by opening up a temporary homeless shelter in one of their vacant properties downtown.

Jordan Menashe says his family bought the property on SW 4th and Washington about a year ago.  They currently have two tenants on the ground floor, a bridal shop and a Mediterranean Café. Their top floor is sitting vacant.  

Until they figure out what to do with the space, Menashe tells FOX 12 it wasn’t a matter of why should his family offer up the space as a shelter, but why shouldn’t they.

He took the idea to the city, and they ran with it.

“There’s 800 people sleeping on the streets for sure, 400 for sure sleeping in the central business district,” said Jordan Menashe. “The fact that we can maybe get 150 of them off the street, is a blessing.”

Menashe says he and his father felt compelled to virtually donate a portion of their property to the city in part because members of their own family at one point struggled with homelessness.

“My aunt and uncle were on and off the streets for many years, so it does hit home for us,” said Menashe. “My dad has worked downtown for 35 plus years so he’s seen it from a personal level and a business level.  It bothers him and it bothers other owners in town, so we want to do our part.”

Menashe says Transition Projects will staff and run the shelter which will be funded by money the city made available when it declared a housing state of emergency last year. 

The idea is for 100 -150 homeless men to stay in the space between the hours of 7 pm and 6:30 am every day for the next three to six months.

Menashe says beds will be made available to all of them and coffee will be offered up in the morning.  He adds that men will have to reserve their space ahead of time, to avoid people lining up along the street. 

“I will support it,” said Petra Cuisine Owner Ahmad Jordan.  Jordan’s restaurant is right across the street from the future shelter. “It will be better for them to stay out of the rain and cold, I feel sorry for them. This is a great thing.”

“As long as it’s clean, I don’t really see it as a problem,” said Luggage sales associate Thomas Andrews. “There was a kid sleeping outside of our store when it snowed, so we gave him hot tea and sent him on his way.  I felt bad.  Knowing they have a place to stay indoors, that’s way better.”

Other downtown business owners, who did not want to go on the record, tell FOX 12 they have big concerns about the shelter and how it might impact the neighborhood in the heart of downtown.

One told FOX 12 they already struggle to keep homeless people from loitering outside of their business and doing drugs in their bathroom. They’re now afraid that problem will only intensify with the temporary shelter setting up shop close by.  

Menashe says he understands concerns, but respectfully disagrees with them.

“It’s only at night and it’s only temporary, so if someone wanted to challenge it, I’d let them know it's anywhere from 25 degrees to 45 degrees and pouring if not snowing.  I have a heart, and maybe not everyone loves the decision we made, but I will stand by it,” said Menashe.

Menashe tells FOX 12 the stairway and elevator off of 4th and Washington will be the only way the group can walk in and out of the building within that 7 pm to 6:30 am time frame, stressing that they will not have access to the businesses on the ground floor.

Portland police also plan to up patrols in the area, according to Menashe.

If all goes according to plan the temporary shelter will open up on Monday, January 18th.

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