One of the rooms inside the Peace Annex shelter for women and couples. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
It was a night of transition for Portland’s homeless community, as one shelter officially shut its doors Friday and another opened a new space for the first time to serve women and couples who have nowhere else to go.
167 people had been staying at the temporary Sears Shelter in the Multnomah Village neighborhood, but on Tuesday the City of Portland announced it would be closing for good effective Friday.
But in its place, women like Lynn Pogue would be moved to a new expanded shelter in downtown Portland.
“Thank God they had it together and had another place for us,” Pogue told Fox 12. “If we were left out on the street it would be violent and people would be getting hurt.”
Pogue said she’d been staying at the Sears Shelter for the last two months and has been without a permanent place to live for about a year.
“It was nice, it really was,” she added. “They treated us like regular people.”
On Friday, Pogue and many others spent their first night in their new space called the “Peace Annex,” a separate shelter under the same roof as the existing 100-bed “Peace Shelter” that has been serving men near Southwest 4th and Stark since January.
The shelter is run by Transition Projects, a nonprofit focused on finding stable housing for people in need.
“Part of what was really important to us is not having anyone return to the streets,” said Stacy Borke, the Housing Services Director for Transition Projects.
Borke said the women and couples moving in will have a separate entrance from the single men seeking shelter, and for the most part, they’ll be housed on separate floors.
The new expanded space includes a lounge area where people can get snacks and wind down for the evening, rooms for single-women only, a space for people with mobility issues and a large room where 42 couples who had been at the Sears Shelter will sleep.
But even this is temporary.
Transition Projects says the Peace Shelter and the Peace Annex will be closing in July, when the owners of the property plan to sell. But because of their generosity in donating the space to meet an immediate need, nearly 300 people have a place to sleep for now.
“We’ve been thinking about this since Sears opened in November,” Borke said. “What’s next for this program, how do we create permanent long-term solutions for as long as we need them?”
While Borke and other organizers continue to look for more permanent options, people like Lynn Pogue are grateful to have a place to call home, no matter how temporary it may be.
“We’re lucky we’re in,” Pogue added. “The people who pulled for us did a good job.”
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