Portland city leaders approve temporary homeless shelter at form - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland city leaders approve temporary homeless shelter at former Terminal 1

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Terminal 1 location that will become temporary shelter for hundreds of homeless people (KPTV) Terminal 1 location that will become temporary shelter for hundreds of homeless people (KPTV)
Portland city commissioners voting to lease the 15-acre industrial site (KPTV) Portland city commissioners voting to lease the 15-acre industrial site (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

After hours of public testimony, Portland city commissioners voted Wednesday to lease a 15-acre industrial site in Northwest Portland known as Terminal 1 to the housing bureau, allowing it to become a temporary shelter for 400 homeless people.

However, it was a vote that passed by the narrowest of margins.

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish voted against the proposal, while Commissioners Dan Saltzman, Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales voted yes.

Supporters said it’s an important step forward to at least temporarily house some people before winter – especially with the upcoming sweep of homeless camps along the Springwater Trail set for September 1.

“The chronically homeless are not just going to disappear. If, in two weeks, we set everybody out from the Springwater Corridor, a lot of those folks are going to end up right in NW Portland, right where this emergency relief effort should be,” said supporter Mike Withey. “I think if 400 people can be housed in T1 on a temporary basis, then that’s exactly what we should be doing.”

But most of the public testimony given at Wednesday’s meeting was against the proposal.

Opponents say the site is contaminated, unsafe, lacks infrastructure, and locks up an otherwise valuable piece of industrial property.

“The site is a unicorn as far as real estate goes, these sites don’t exist. 15 acres with waterfront access, it’s zoned heavy industrial, it’s for job creation and sites like this are the cornerstone of our land use system in Portland,” said Tom Cody, who opposes the plan. “I’m concerned that this is being processed very quickly without careful consideration and is an inappropriate use of a particular site and an inappropriate use of scarce public dollars to address a really important issue.”

Developer Homer Williams hopes to have the temporary shelter open by the end of October, and told Fox 12 he has already secured 400 beds, 400 lockers and a medical team to provide around-the-clock care.

He’s also working on a proposal for a long-term shelter at the Terminal 1 site that could house some 1,400 people. He said the cost estimate for that project has come down from $100 million to roughly $60 million, with 60 percent of the funding coming from private sources.

He agrees, though, there is still a lot of work left to do to make it a reality.

“I want to support what Homer philosophically wants to do, I just believe this is the wrong site,” said Stephen Gomez, who was among the dozens of people who testified in opposition of the plan. “The site itself is not a great site for anyone to live in.”

Williams said the testimony heard Wednesday against his proposal came as no surprise.

“There’s not a place in the city where you can put – forget 400 – 40, 20 [people] that’s not going to cause angst,” Williams told Fox 12. “And right now with Springwater, we’re going to put 500 people spread out that have no idea where they’re going. That’s not a healthy situation. In fact, I think it’s very dangerous.”

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