Supporters raise $4M for Wapato-to-Bybee Lake Hope Center

Civic Affairs

Private funds fueling the effort, open house on Sunday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The plan to turn the never-used Wapato Jail facility into a homeless service center is moving forward. While Multnomah County leaders have turned thumbs down on the idea, private citizens have raised $4 million to get it going,

Jordan Schnitzer, who owns the facility would lease it to Helping Hands, a non-profit based on the Oregon coast that operates 11 shelters and transitional service programs.

Most of the money raised is for operating it for 2 years.

The project called Bybee Lakes Hope Center would house close to 250 people and provide services for those who want to be there temporarily, drug-free and focused on getting a job and a permanent place to live.

Concept art for the Bybee Lakes Hope Center, Feb. 27, 2020. (KOIN)

Schnitzer said everyone is trying to fit the homeless population into one solution. “There are many solutions,” he said, “and lots of wonderful providers who everyday take care of thousands of people. The issue in our community is not whether nothing is being done. The issue is not enough is being done.”

Previous KOIN stories: Wapato to Bybee Lake Hope Center

County officials never wanted to turn Wapato into a homeless shelter. Commissioners believe public money needs to be spent on more permanent housing.

There is concern how Wapato could provide housing and services for the homeless over the long term without public money — and there are zoning issues.

There is a public open house scheduled for this Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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