PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The homeless crisis is affecting communities all around the Portland metro area and on Thursday a new solution was proposed in Washington County.
The founder of Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers announced he wants to open a new transition center in the county.
First, they need a place for the shelter to go then once they have it, they’ll need support from the community for it to go forward.
“We need to bring services to folks yesterday,” Hillsboro City Council member Beach Pace said.
In the latest Point in Time count in 2021, there were more than 800 people unhoused or unsheltered. This is likely an undercount, but still 14% more than before the pandemic.
Senator Janeen Sollmon (D-Hillsboro) said “it’s bigger than all of us right and it takes so many different pieces of solutions coming together to make sure we’re addressing the issues.”
The piece Washington County is looking to add includes a 150 bed transition and reentry center operated by Helping Hands Reenrty and Outreach Centers. A high barrier facility to support low barrier shelters.
“It takes a process you have people in low barrier shelter entry with high barrier needs and our job is to convince people this is worth it and it works pretty well,” Alan Evans, founder of Helping Hands Reentry Transition Centers, said.
Evans’ organization has centers across Oregon such as the Bybee Lakes facility in north Portland.
The track record is what inspired Washington County Hope Center Steering Committee Chair Bob Grover, to try and bring it to Washington County.
“We need to get people to understand this isn’t a homeless shelter, this is a homeless recovery center and there are rules and that this is a positive impact to their neighborhood,” Grover said.
Evans says it will cost around $1.5 million dollars a year to operate–supporting up to 500 people each year. But he will not know the startup costs until there is a building for the facility to go.
City councilor Beach Pace believes it will be worth it.
“Three clean ups can take care of one person for a year. It’s a better investment. We will pay regardless, so let’s invest in people and make a difference in their lives and a difference in our community,” Pace said.
Most of Evans’ facilities, like Bybee Lakes, are privately funded.
Organizers like Grover hope those donations can be paired with public money from local governments to get this effort off the ground.