PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new homeless shelter is opening its doors in Southeast Portland on Wednesday, about five weeks after residents — including over 10 families who share a border with the site — were notified.
The Wy’East Shelter, a 125-bed, all-men’s shelter geared towards veterans and men with disabilities over the age of 55, will house residents from the Hansen Homeless Shelter in Northeast Portland, which had to close for the summer due to HVAC issues.
Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services Director Marc Jolin recognized the timeline between notifying Hazelwood and Mill Park neighbors and Wednesday’s was a tight one.
“We want to make sure some of our most vulnerable residents won’t be losing a bed at night,” Jolin said on May 28.
Residents in the area have been sharing concerns about the new shelter for weeks. Before Tuesday, only a small chain-link fence separated the site, located on Southeast 122nd, from local homes, causing worries about safety. A temporary 7-foot fence is expected to be completed by the opening.
Tatyana Makarovskiy is one of the residents that shares a border with the shelter. She runs an in-home daycare. She fears the shelter could affect her livelihood.
“One of my parents found out that there is going to be a shelter behind (and) they raised their concerns,” she said. “I’m at risk of losing my business.
“We have trash behind our fence and needles and all kinds of stuff, yes. It’s a frustration”
Makarovskiy said she wrote a letter to Multnomah County weeks ago, expressing her concerns about the impact to her business. She told KOIN 6 News she hadn’t received a response.
Joint Office of Homeless Services communication coordinator Denis Theriault, however, forwarded to KOIN 6 News his emailed response to Makarosvkiy, which was sent on May 24, 2018. In the email, Theriault told Makarovskiy about the plans for the 7-foot fence with privacy slats and informed her that the intention was to open Wy’East solely for a limited time period, while the county waits for permanent shelters to open in late 2018. On Tuesday, Makarovskiy was still under the impression that the shelter would be a permanent installation in her neighborhood.
Theriault told KOIN 6 News the Mill Park Neighborhood Association is working on a good neighbor agreement. The agency has said in the past that community support is necessary for successful outcomes for the shelter residents.