A new Salvation Army housing and services center in Beaverton nearly triples the number of displaced veterans, including those with disabilities, the antiquated downtown Portland facility can handle.
The Salvation Army Veterans and Family Center, located in the former Normandy Woods senior center at 4825 S.W. Farmington Road, effectively replaces the long-running Harbor Light Center veterans' emergency transitional shelter at the foot of the Burnside Bridge in downtown Portland.
The Beaverton facility was dedicated Wednesday afternoon with a ribbon cutting and open house, which included tours of the refurbished facility.
The new digs can provide temporary housing and services for as many as 150 veterans and family members, a notable jump up from the 50 or so rooms the downtown location provided, said Constance Grecco, the Portland Metro Salvation Army's community relations director.
The Beaverton facility is also fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the lack of which at the near century-old downtown facility limited the clients it could effectively serve.
'The new building is ADA accessible,' Grecco said. 'We could not have wheelchairs in the old building, it was so antiquated.
'This is a much more superior building to service everybody - men, women and families.'
Although the new location isn't as centrally located as the high-profile downtown building, accessibility through the TriMet bus and the MAX light-rail systems make it easy for most clients to get to, she noted.
'A lot of our clients take transportation, rapid transit or city transit. It's very easily accessible,' she said. 'There is no down side' to the location.
The veterans' center is geared to accommodate displaced military veterans and families up to nine months while they work with staff and volunteers to secure transitional housing.
The facility also provides psychological, life-skills and health-oriented counseling, as well as employment assistance and guidance through U.S. Veterans Administration programs to those in need.
'This is a full-service program,' Grecco said. 'There is individual guidance and support in a caring, work-like atmosphere.'
Major Don Gilger, coordinator of the Portland Metro Salvation Army, said the relocation reflects a commitment to being part of Beaverton as well as providing essential support services.
'This move signifies the Salvation Army's continued commitment to serving and supporting veterans in the community,' he said. 'We look forward to becoming an integral part of the Beaverton community and to making an even greater impact on our veterans' lives.'
A relocation project has been discussed for years, but a regional search for a suitable facility didn't gain traction until about a year ago, Grecco said.
Clients are gradually being moved to Beaverton from the old facility, for which the Salvation Army plans to partner with another nonprofit agency that provides smaller-scale social services, she added.
'Veterans are one of our largest-growing populations, so this is something that's very much needed in the community,' Grecco said. 'We're very excited about the new location.'