Proposed SE Foster homeless shelter sparks mixed reactions
Opinions were split during a community meeting abut opening a 100-bed homeless shelter on Southeast Foster Road on Monday night.
Portland and Multnomah County plan to open the shelter in a closed grocery store at Southeast Foster and 61st. Although the shelter is not scheduled to open until next summer or fall, it got mixed reactions from residents who live in the area at the meeting, which included Mayor Ted Wheeler and County Chair Deborah Kafoury.
City and county representaitves said shelter need is great in Southeast Portland because of a large homeless population in the area. According to them, the layout of the former store works well after renovations and the site is close to transit, job opportunities and Portland Community College.
However, some neighbors argue it's a terrible location near businesses, homes and kids.
"You've sandwiched this facility between a youth development center and an at-risk high school. I don't think you could have tried harder to find a poorer location," said one resident.
Another resident, Bill Meyers, said, "I have seen problems in that area already without a shelter there. They leave all their garbage for everyone to clean up after them. I have to do that and the city has to do that."
Others were supportive, however.
"I am concerned that there is a lot of emotional knee jerk reaction to say that this is, 'Bad, bad, bad.' And I am like, 'What is so bad about it?' These people live in our neighborhood already," said Jeff Arasmith, who lives near the proposed shelter.
"One of the things we've offered is, to work with the school and some other folks to help us come up with expectations, and that's something we take very seriously," said Denis Theriault with the city-county Joint Office of Homeless Services, which is funding the project. "Folks who stay in our shelter, they have very strict codes of conduct they have to follow. You can't just be there and break rules. You have to be a good neighbor."
This is also proposed as a low-barrier shelter — for example, people can bring pets or stay with a partner.
Mayor Ted Wheeler — who was at the meeting — told the crowd that homelessness is one of the many major issues he's trying to tackle.
"It's an opportunity for folks to rebuild their lives," Wheeler said. "They take that opportunity seriously."
Multnomah County has also filed paperwork to open a 200-bed shelter in a vacant warehouse in the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood.