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Controversy dogs Terminal 1 homeless plan again at City Council

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PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JONATHAN HOUSE - Developer Homer Williams has so far provided few details about the homeless multi-service cetner he want to open at Terminal 1.Disagreement over the large homeless shelter proposed for Terminal 1 carried over to Wednesday’s meeting of the Portland City Council.

On a 3 to 1 vote, the council authorized the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) to apply to Metro for a $100,000 grant to study the feasibility of the 400-person shelter and even larger homeless multi-service center proposed by developer Homer Williams.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who voted against the application, called the potential grant “a waste of money.” She also said it contradicted promises by proposal supporters at last week’s council meeting that the only public money spent on the project would be $10,000 a month in lease payments from PHB to the Bureau of Environmental Services, which owns Terminal 1.

Metro is the elected regional government that serves the urbanized areas of Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. It recently created an Equitable Housing Planning and Development grant program to help local jurisdictions plan affordable housing projects. The grants are funded with a Construction Excise Tax levied by Metro on new development.

Voting in favor of the application without comment were Mayor Charlie Hales and commissioners Dan Saltzman and Steve Novick. Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees BES and voted against the proposal last week with Fritz, was absent.

After a lengthy and contentious hearing last Wednesday, the council voted 3 to 2 to authorize PHB to lease Terminal 1 for six months, with two automatic six month extensions, unless the lease is canceled. The ordinance authorizing the lease was introduced by Saltzman, who said it would allow a 400-bed homeless shelter to be opened in a vacant warehouse on the property while Williams tries to raise tens of millions of dollars from the private section to build a multi-service center on the property called Trail of Hope.

"The application seeks to fund predevelopment work on the Terminal 1 site to determine feasibility of the Oregon Trail to Hope project including site and financial feasibility assessments for proposed programmatic uses," reads an impact statement that accompanied the ordinance authorizing the grant.

The impact statement also said the grant will allow PHB to conduct a community involvement process on the project, which hasn't happened yet. Last week, dozens of nearby residents compalined they had not been notified about the proposal before the hearing. They all opposed it.

Terminal 1 is zoned industrial and has been declared surplus by the council. It has been going through a surplus sales process previously authorized by the council. Bids were due Monday and have not yet been released to the public.

Fish believes Terminal 1 should be sold to create good-paying industrial jobs, with the proceeds used to hold down future BES rate increases. He also believes that the lease between PHB and BES should be at market rates, which BES and the broker handling the sale estimated at closer to $100,000 a month.

Portland attorney John DiLorenzo has threatened to seek an injunction against the project of the lease payments aren’t raised to market rate. DiLorenzo is currently suing the city of alleged misspending of BES and Portland Water Bureau ratepayer funds by the council. The judge hearing the case has ruled that such spending must be reasonably related to the primary missions of the bureaus.

You can read the ordinance and impact statement at www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/article/585890.

For a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue, go to pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/318788-198352-council-homeless-shelter-now-industrial-jobs-maybe.