Old Town doesn’t want city’s proposed homeless shelter

Statement was issued Wednesday

The warehouse that the city has eyed as a new shelter in the Old Town Chinatown district, Sept. 20, 2017. (Lyndsey Hewitt/Portland Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The Old Town Chinatown Community Association has one word for the city and county’s proposed 200-bed homeless shelter at Northwest Hoyt and Northwest Third Avenue: Nope.

Full statement at bottom of article

After holding two forums on Sept. 6 to hear from the community and area business owners about their thoughts on the shelter, they issued a statement on Wednesday, addressed to Mayor Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Marc Jolin, director of the city-county Joint Office of Homeless Services saying they “cannot support” the proposal.

They say they recognize that the city is in a homeless crisis, but that overconcentration of homeless services in that district — which has the highest number of homeless individuals sleeping on its streets on a given night, at around 350 — poses a detrimental impact to the neighborhood, inviting crime and a negative effect on business and tourism.

“As you saw in our presentation during the September 6th meetings, Old Town Chinatown has the highest crime-rate concentration in all of Portland. You also heard the feedback from our residents that they are not just fearful for their lack of safety and security, but are pleading with the City for more support after having a neighbor recently stabbed to death, watching open drug deals on our streets, and the recent drive-by shooting on NW 4th and Everett,” the statement reads.

But the biggest reason for their resounding no is linked to previous promises made between the city and Old Town/Chinatown associates — the No Net Gain agreement, a deal made back in the 1980s to prevent more homeless services concentration there.

“That is inconsistent with everything the City has told us over the years. It is hypocritical to continue concentrating high-needs, homeless individuals in this neighborhood using the circular reasoning that there are already services here that they need to access, and it is irresponsible to continue steering vulnerable people into the lowest-income, highest crime area of the City,” their letter reads.

Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office and the Joint Office of Homeless Services are still reviewing the letter and plan to meet this afternoon to discuss their next steps, according to Michael Cox, spokesman for the mayor’s office.

It’s unclear how they’ll proceed, but officials put much stock in having neighborhood support for a project earlier this year: the tiny-home village for homeless women in the Kenton neighborhood.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 media partner