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Washington Co. leaders exploring shelter options

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 12:20 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – City and county leaders are coming together to look for new ways to solve the houseless crisis in the state by treating it as a regional issue.

On Friday, Washington County leaders toured a shelter in Multnomah County with a history of success helping the homeless find permanent housing.

The shelter is the Laurelwood Center on SE Foster Road and 62nd Avenue. Since opening in 2019, over 1000 people have come through and Multnomah County says around 300 have gotten into permanent housing.

The shelter, in Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson’s district, is 120 beds in size. In ten long months of meetings with businesspeople and residents while Vega Pederson worked to site the shelter, she says listening and trust were keys to neighborhood acceptance.

“These shelters or villages are going to be more successful when you engage with the community,” says Vega Pederson.

The shelter serves a select group: women, couples, veterans, the disabled and those over 55. While it doesn’t serve all groups on the street, it offers a new sense of safety and security.

“We as a region are working together to address homelessness and our affordable housing needs as well,” says Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington.

Washington County leaders say houselessness may look different in the suburbs but there are no borders when it comes to the humanitarian crisis.

“Beaverton is right now trying to site a location for a shelter in our own community – we want to explore models that have been really successful,” says Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty. “When we look at the region, this one pops to the top of the surface.”

Beaty, who was elected just two years ago, says she wants to tackle the problem head-on.

“I hope this isn’t a problem 10 or 15 years from now, but right now, we desperately need these services in Washington County,” Beaty says. “We cannot pretend like this is a problem that only exists in Portland.”