Homeless shelter opening across from Oaks Bottom

The county plans to add an additional 550 beds for the homeless this summer

A homeless shelter is slated to go in across the street from this popular Portland park, Apr. 28, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — This summer, Multnomah County will open a homeless shelter in southeast Portland, on Milwaukie Ave. It will be located across from the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge near the trendy Sellwood and Westmoreland neighborhoods, and it’s getting a mixed reaction from residents.

“It doesn’t make sense. It’s not logistically smart,” says Richard Laughlin, who lives a few blocks away. “The problems that are going to follow them, we as a neighborhood aren’t equipped to take on.”

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury thinks it’s the perfect neighborhood.

“The building itself is in a fabulous location, it’s right off of McLoughlin, right off the Orange Line, next to public transportation,” she tells KOIN 6 News.

The county paid $2.3 million for the building. Officials met with neighbors last week to explain how the shelter will operate. Kafoury says it will have 100 beds for women and their spouses or partners. She says it will be a valuable resource to help women get back on their feet.

“What people might not know is that there are 500 women and we know that women who sleep outside are much more likely to be assaulted. It’s an issue of morality and an issue of getting people safe.”

Max Grad owns a business right next to the shelter and thinks it will improve the neighborhood.

“Better to have the managed services than unmanaged. Having people who have nobody to turn to becomes a problem,” he says.

But Laughlin still isn’t sold.

“The county chair and the mayor live in bourgeois Eastmoreland, they don’t have to deal with these problems, people like my wife and I and my neighbors who have to deal with these problems,” says Laughlin.

The county plans to add a total of 650 beds for the homeless this year.  Kafoury says the county is considering a location in Gresham.

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