Saltzman pulls plug on Terminal 1 homeless shelter

The shelter was proposed by developer Homer Williams

A sign outside Terminal 1 at the Port of Portland in Northwest Portland, August 11, 2016 (KOIN)
A sign outside Terminal 1 at the Port of Portland in Northwest Portland, August 11, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Commissioner Dan Saltzman announced the homeless shelter planned for Terminal 1 is no longer being considered Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement came the day before the City Council is scheduled to vote on funds to pay for the lease for the property.

It also came after a day of conflicting statements by the shelter’s supporters and those who oppose the possibility of it evolving into a permanent homeless multi-service center.

The Portland Tribune is a media partner with KOIN 6 News

The shelter was been proposed by developer Homer Williams as the first phase of a large project called the Oregon Haven for Hope. Saltzman, who is in charge of the Portland Housing Bureau, released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“When Homer Williams approached me about the concept of a private sector project to provide homeless services I was more than intrigued, but excited about the prospect. We agreed to start with a privately funded short term winter shelter at Terminal 1.

“Due to the impending winter weather the City needs to open a winter shelter very soon. Unfortunately, Harbor of Hope will not be ready to open its shelter soon enough to meet the City’s needs. We are therefore moving forward with other options for opening a winter shelter.

Designs for what could be Portland's biggest homeless shelter at the Terminal 1 building. (KOIN)
Designs for what could be Portland’s biggest homeless shelter at the Terminal 1 building. (KOIN)

“I am very grateful to Homer Williams, Harbor of Hope and all of the private sector donors and supporters of the project. I hope to continue to engage them in efforts to work to shelter and house our communities most vulnerable unhoused residents.”

Saltzman’s office did not immediately respond to questions about what other options are being considered.

The council approved allowing the Portland Housing Bureau to lease the 18-acre industrial property from the Bureau of Environmental Services to open a shelter in a warehouse there on Aug. 10.

Voting for the lease were Saltzman, Mayor Charlie Hales, and Commissioner Steve Novick. Voting against it were commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish, who is in charge of BES.

On Monday, Williams sent Commissioner Dan Saltzman a packet of information on both proposal on Monday. In a cover letter dated Oct. 24, he noted the sub-lease with the Portland Housing Bureau, which Saltzman oversees, has still not been signed. The two bureaus have exchanged proposed leases that are still being reviewed.

“The absence of certainty has made many aspects off our preparation for this proposal — from fundraising to management recruitment and many other aspects — very difficult. Some of our estimates of cost are tentative as we have been allowed on the site on only three occasions for a total of six hours during the last two and one-half months. In addition, the absence of a lease has precluded us from obtaining an insurance policy as we do not have adequate information for the carrier we have been working with for many weeks,” Williams wrote.

Despite that, Williams said the Oregon Harbor of Hope, as his proposal is called, would operate as a non-profit organization whose general manager will be Ibrahim Mubarak, a founder of both the Dignity Village and Right 2 DreamToo homeless camps.

But on Tuesday, the Portland Business Alliance wrote Saltzman to say that it only supports using Terminal 1 for temporary homeless center.

The letter from PBA President and CEO Sandra McDonough says that although the organization supports the concept of the Oregon Harbor of Hope, it does not believe Terminal 1 is an appropriate location. She notes that area businesses and others are preparing to challenge the council’s decision before the state Land Use Board of Appeals.

“The site has been roundly objected to and now faces legal challenges, As a result, we support de-coupling Haven of Hope from Terminal 1. By doing so, out hope is that Homer and his supporters can build on the momentum he has created tho move the Haven of Hope concept forward,” wrote McDonough, who says the PBA is working to identify a short list of other locations for both temporary and permanent shelters.

You can read the letter here.

Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler also questioned using Terminal 1 while speaking at the PBA’s monthly breakfast forum last week. Read a previous Portland Tribune story on what he said.

The council is scheduled to consider an annual fall budget adjustment package that includes funds for the lease payments on Wednesday.