The nonprofit leading a public and private partnership to build a new homeless shelter held a community meeting Monday night on the facility expected to open this fall in Portland’s Pearl District.
The shelter will be built on an empty city of Portland lot under the Broadway Bridge, but will be privately funded.
In April, Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle donated $1.5 million of his personal money to the project.
The nonprofit leading the effort is Oregon Harbor of Hope. The organization is the brainchild of Portland real estate developer Homer Williams.
Williams told FOX 12 the shelter is on track to open in mid-October.
Boyle’s money will cover the construction expenses and the facility will cost $1.2 million a year to operate.
Williams said, so far, the organization has raised more than half the money for the first year of operations.
He said he’s attended every community meeting thus far and has heard very little push-back from the community.
“If we do this right and people can embrace it because it is being well-done, then that’s an important signal to the rest of the city,” Williams said. “We don’t want a mistake here.”
Some neighbors at the meeting said they’re intrigued by the plan, and mostly supportive, but do have questions about area livability.
“I do have concerns about the crime,” Judie Dunken said. “I have concerns about the mental illness.”
Dunken added, “I’m very, very interested and I want this to work. I think we need to start somewhere.”
Candee Wilson, a member of the board of the Old Town Community Association and a member of the task force on the Joint Office of Homeless Services, also attended the meeting.
Wilson said she’s skeptical about the motivation behind the business interest in helping the homeless, but said she likes that the plan seems cost-efficient and the 9,000-square-foot facility would be portable.
“My God, we already have so many shelters in Old Town,” Wilson said. “One more that is easily dismantled – if it doesn’t work – is a whole lot more appealing to me than spending millions and millions of dollars on a brick-and-mortar facility that can’t be dismantled.”
The shelter is expected to serve 120 adults and will include access to health and social services in an adjacent navigation center.
Oregon Harbor of Hope will host additional community outreach meetings on Friday at the Residence Inn Marriott in the Pearl District. The meetings Friday are at noon and 6 p.m. Another meeting is scheduled in the same location on June 22 at noon.
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