PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Portland city leaders are working on affordable ways to address housing the city’s homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leaders on Tuesday discussed a sizable jump in projected costs during an online work session.
Multnomah County recently opened up two hotels to act as medical shelters for homeless people who were sick with symptoms of the virus. That was expected to be a temporary solution. Now, hotels are preparing to open up to guests.
The city is looking into 12 to 18-month agreements with motels, but say it won’t be cheap. Using the current model, the city expects the cost to increase 500 percent. Their goal is to keep isolation vulnerable members of the population until there is a vaccine.
“I feel like we're not there yet and what we're missing is how do we leverage these dollars into a permanent solution, because once the economy picks up, the demand for hotel and motel rooms comes back, the hotel and motel rooms disappear and we'll be effectively left with 40 or 80 million dollars’ worth of investment with the same number of shelter beds we have today, which are obviously inadequate,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said.
The budget would not include funds to help transition people into permanent housing, but the city says it is looking into ways to make that happen.
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