PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — About 167 of Portland’s homeless moved into a new shelter Friday.
The women and their partners were staying at the Sears Building warming shelter in Multnomah Village, but that shelter was temporary and is closing at the end of May.
Some neighbors of the Sears Building are thankful the shelter is closing.
“I’m concerned about my housing value, and there was a camp. If my bordering property turns into a homeless camp my property will be worth nothing,” said Karen Johnson, whose backyard is adjacent to the Sears Building. “I won’t want to live here, people won’t want to rent from me. So I’m really glad it’s closed.”
But another neighbor, Bill Gallagher, says he didn’t notice any problems and thinks shelters are a good step toward improving Portland’s homeless problem.
“Since they’ve been there I can’t say I’ve seen anything happen in the neighborhood,” Gallagher said. “No strange traffic, no hassles, if anything they’ve been a great neighbor.”
The people staying at the Sears Building will now stay at the Peace Annex Emergency Shelter, which has been housing 100 men for a few months.
At 7 p.m. Friday night there was a long line for a bed and roof.
“It has been a bit of a fire drill and the challenge really is locating good spaces and options for shelters,” said George E. Devendorf, executive director of Transition Projects. “Neighborhoods are not lining up to host shelters.”
The non-profit got some help from the Menashe family, who is lending space for the 167 extra beds at the Peace Annex shelter downtown. There is enough space there for everyone that was staying at the Sears shelter, for now.
The Peace Annex shelter, like Sears, is only temporary — it will close down in July.
“The search continues. We’re looking at all different options and we’ll have to piece something together within the next 7 weeks,” Devendorf said. “A more permanent site so that we don’t have to subject the people in the shelters to any more turmoil in their life.”
Devendorf said to way to prevent this “fire drill” situation from happening again is collaboration.
“I think it has to be frankly a collaboration between government, property owners and neighbors where we say ‘this is a huge common challenge-a civic challenge,'” he said.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales stopped by shelter before the doors opened, but was not available to answer questions.