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Neighbors want more information about proposed homeless Navigation Center

Residents living near the multi-service homeless facility proposed by Mayor Charlie Hales want more information about the project, which was first revealed in his State of the City speech on Friday.

"We really don't know anything about it. There have been no meetings with the neighborhood association to discuss it," says Susan Lindsay, a member of the board of the Buckman Community Association, which represents the neighborhood where the facility would be located.

In his speech, Hales said the city was partnering with Portland Public Schools to open a homeless Navigation Center in an unused school building. School officials say it is an unused storage building on the southern edge of the former Washington High School campus at Southest 14th and Morrison. The building was used by the Department of Environmental Quality before it was acquired by PPS.

Hales chief of staff Josh Alpert says the plan is to open the building as a 24-hour homeless shelter before adding other services, which are intended to help the homeless transition into permanent housing. The project would be modeled after a Navigation Center that is currently open in San Francisco.

Alpert says Hales hopes to open the shelter before the temporary one opened last year in Southwest Portland closes in a few months.

According to PPS spokesperson Christine Miles, the city must meet three conditions to lease the building.

First, the city must prioritize homeless PPS students and their families for services.

Second, the city must continue paying for the Portland police officers who serve as school resource officers for PPS and the David Douglas School District. Miles estimates that cost at $2 million a year.

And third, the city must continue paying its share of the youth passes that allow PPS high school students to ride TriMet for free. Last year the city contributed $966,666 to the program. PPS contributed an equal share, and TriMet forgave that amount in fare revenue.

The lease payments have not yet been determined, Miles says.

Lindsay says the neighborhood association will likely have other conditions when city officials consult them. They include a Good Neighbor Agreement and a firm deadline for the shelter and Navigation Center to close.

Lindsay also says she is also disappointed Portland Parks & Recreation has not yet built the community center on another portion of the Washington High School property that was promised when it was sold to private developers. The school has been converted to the Revolution Hall performance space.

"A master plan for the community center was developed with neighborhood input, but it's just sitting on a shelf," says Lindsay.