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Planned SE Foster homeless shelter causes mixed reactions

Shelter isn't planned to open until sometime later in 2018

Amy Frazier and KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Neighbors of a planned Southeast Portland homeless shelter learned more about the project during a community meeting Monday night and had the chance to voice their opinions and concerns.

The city and county plan to put the 100-bed shelter in a building that currently houses an old grocery store at Southeast Foster and 61st.

While the shelter is scheduled to open next summer or fall, it's getting mixed reactions from residents who live in the neighborhood.

FAQ for planned shelter at the bottom

A capacity crowd packed the community meeting Monday night -- where residents heard from city and county leaders about the plan. Another 200 people waited outside.

Organizers of the shelter say the need is great in Southeast Portland due to a large homeless population in the area. According to them, the layout of the old grocery store works well for renovations and the site is close to transit, job opportunities and PCC.

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."

There is a YMCA and the Mount Scott Learning Center in the area.

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."

"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," Jeff Arasmith, who lives near the proposed shelter, said.

"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 Joint Office of Homeless Services. "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 planned 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.


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