Private developer offers up former downtown dance club for winter shelter
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City-county initiative will fund operation
The sun peeked out enough Friday morning to warrant an outside press conference announcing a new, temporary winter homeless shelter in downtown Portland.
The street-level floor of 333 S.W. Park Ave., where people once danced the night away at the former Escape Night Club, will now sleep up to 100 homeless individuals for up to six months, in an agreement between the county, city and a private developer.
Though an official opening date has not yet been announced, organizers have Thanksgiving as a target.
The announcement follows the loss of Terminal 1 as an option, when Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman pulled the plug on plans last week.
Developer Tom Cody and his company Project^ donated the space for use by the city and county. Cody says hes been openly opposed to using Terminal 1.
Project^ is a part of The Working Waterfront Coalition, which filed an appeal against using Terminal 1 as a homeless shelter during the summer. Project^ reportedly offered to buy Terminal 1.
Now, construction crews are working to clear out the former downtown dance club by knocking down dividing walls and opening the space. Whats left are essentially just the restrooms and the elevators and stairways, Cody says.
Above the club were practice spaces for musicians and lofts for artists, who were given notice to vacate over the summer when the building was sold. The building will eventually be a space for offices and bottom-floor retail space.
The temporary winter shelter is being modeled after the Peace Temporary Emergency Shelter downtown, which opened exclusively for men last January. The Menashe family donated use of the second floor of that property at Southwest Fourth and Washington.
Its a very uncomfortable situation for me," Cody told reporters Friday. "This is our first rodeo in this regard.
Cody is following the Menashe model because he believes we need to take the word developer back.
It shouldnt be a bad word. We invest in the city, and if you invest in the city and you truly are a citizen, it doesnt matter your level of investment if you are a participant in civics, he says.
Mayor Charlie Hales said that after officially declaring the housing and homeless crisis last year, What we need to see is deliberate experimentation, rapid action and real money.
The Joint office of Homeless Services and A Home for Everyone will provide funding to operate the shelter, while the nonprofit Transition Projects will operate the facility.
Whats becoming increasingly clear is that publicly-financed responses will not be sufficient, Transitions Projects Executive Director George Devendorf said. They day after the new winter shelter is fully occupied, we will still have hundreds and hundreds of people living outside.
A Home For Everyone is still trying to add more beds where it can.
Our goal is to add 150 beds for a winter shelter, plus 120 beds are coming online mid-November, Marc Jolin, executive director, told the Tribune in an earlier phone interview. The 120 beds are at the new McLoughlin Resource Center for Homeless Women and Couples, 5120 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.
He said that the Humans Solutions Family Center, 16015 S.E. Stark St. has been in overflow mode; the number of families seeking shelter there, on some nights, has been in excess of 200 people.
Interactive shelter map
This interactive map displays all of the shelters distributed across Multnomah County and the City of Portland. For additional information about shelters, call 211.