PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The largest homeless shelter in Oregon is battling with Multnomah County to get public funding to stay open – saying it needs a funding commitment by the end of the week or faces closure.
Multnomah County commissioners will vote Thursday on whether or not to give Bybee Lakes Hope Center money to stay open until the end of the year.
The shelter at the renovated Wapato Jail in north Portland — a jail that never opened — has more than 175 beds in use for emergency shelter and transitional housing. The shelter has been funded with private donations since it opened in 2020.
However, Helping Hands Re-entry Outreach Centers — the organization that runs Bybee Lakes -says it will shut down next week if it doesn’t get tax dollars from the county.
Donors don’t want to keep paying for the shelter when there are millions of taxpayer dollars available from a metro area tax.
Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson told KOIN 6 News there will be money allocated to Bybee Lakes at least through the end of the year, but after that, Bybee Lakes funding faces an uncertain future.
“Make sure that 176 beds that they have currently in use are going to stay as resources for our community in this time of crisis. We also need to make sure that as Multnomah County thinks about making an investment in them as an organization, just like we do with any organization, that we want to make sure that this investment is going to be used wisely, that the organization has the capacity to continue on long term,” Vega Pederson said.
Bybee Lakes wanted $5 million however the county is offering just under $1 million. With discussions still underway, Vega Pederson told KOIN 6 she wants an outside organization to review their financial records.
County commissioners plan to vote Thursday on where to spend the millions of dollars collected from the Metro Supportive Housing Tax and Bybee Lakes Hope Center is on that list.