PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – On Wednesday, Portland City Council unanimously passed the use of more than $6.5 million in state emergency funding to get the first large temporary alternative shelter up and running in Southeast Portland.
There were two major upfront one-time costs including more than $2.5 million for the pods funded by the state, plus $1.5 million dollars of city money for site development.
The rest of the funds pay for the first six months of operation. So far, the total cost of the site has exceeded $8 million.
The site is just one of six large sanctioned campsites the city plans to create.
It appears the annual ongoing operating cost for the sanctioned campsite will be more than $7.5 million but that includes 24/7 staffing; homeless services; meals; hygiene; client services; maintenance and pest control.
Depending on how quickly people transition in and out of this temporary site, KOIN 6 News estimates it will cost about $20,000- $30,000 per person per year.
The mayor says with the status quo, the city has been spending $300 million per year on homeless as is — including sweeps, clean-ups, litter collection, graffiti removal, public safety issues and fire response.
“The temporary alternative shelter sites are good value. If you simply take the cost per pod and allocate that to one person, it seems like a lot. It’s about $30,000 per year per pod,” Mayor Wheeler said. “And the goal is not to keep them there long-term. The goal is to have them stay there as short a period of time as possible and then navigated by the county into housing.”
Wheeler added, “I see this as a very cost-effective way, particularly if we can get two or three people per year through one of those pods.”
The mayor went on to say that each client will have a case manager and be assisted with behavioral health and addiction.
The site, which opened last week, can hold up to 200 guests. So far, 40 people are already moved in and they’re onboarding at least five new people a day.
The city plans for it to be fully operational in the coming weeks and will be funded by the state for two years.