The Hansen Shelter, which houses 200 homeless men and women (and some pets) in the former Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office building at 12240 N.E. Glisan St., is about to reach a milestone. When it was opened in August 2016, it was estimated that it would remain open no more than 18 months. The crumbling and inadequate building is “the lowest-rated building in the entire inventory of County facilities,” county commissioners opposed to the shelter noted at the time. Now, its expected lifespan is up.
However, the shelter is not closing now. There are “no firm updates on timing or logistics,” Denis Theriault, Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) communications coordinator, informed the Mid-county Memo. “But the Foster and Old Town conversations show we’re still actively planning for the promised time when Hansen would close after serving its purpose during the initial stages of this housing and homelessness emergency.”
Transition Projects, the nonprofit that runs the shelter on the behalf of the city/county-run JOHS, did not respond to requests for a comment.
Portland had about 1,600 year-round shelter beds and more than 4,000 homeless people as of September 2017, according to Willamette Week, citing Mayor Ted Wheeler. But of those 4,000 people, fewer than 1,700 were counted without shelter.
As Theriault said, there has been more recent activity to provide shelter, with 120 beds proposed for a former grocery store at Southeast 61st Avenue and Foster Road, also to be run by Transition Projects, and another 200 in Old Town Chinatown. That still leaves more than 1,300 people unsheltered, some of whom created the Village of Hope encampment in the Big Four Corners Natural Area on Northeast Airport Way and 185th Avenue, which was swept by police and Portland Parks and Recreation’s park rangers in early February.
Thus, the Hansen Shelter continues to fill a need, to the satisfaction of no one. The shelter was controversial from the time it opened with practically no warning to the community, and neighborhood sentiment has remained predominantly against it. While “NIMBY” (“not in my backyard”) is hardly the loftiest of human sentiments, County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, JOHS Head Marc Jolin, and Transition Projects executives apparently value their lofty goals more than their own credibility.
For more information, contact:
County Chair Deborah Kafoury: 503-988-3308
County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson: 503-988-5217
JOHS Head Marc Jolin: 503-893-9430
Transition Projects executives: 503-280-4700
This post was updated on 3/6/2018