PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Bybee Lakes Hope Center, a former Multnomah County jail facility now being used to house and help hundreds of homeless people in North Portland, may be in danger of closing its doors.
KOIN 6 News learned the privately-owned center in the former Wapato Jail is in jeopardy after officials with Bybee Lakes says it needs funding, as Gov. Tina Kotek commits hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce homelessness around the state of Oregon and Multnomah County residents pay a special tax to help the homeless which is collected by Metro, to help with operating costs for their program, where more than half of those who complete it end up with a job and a place to live.
Currently privately funded by donors, including United Way, Bybee Lakes Hope Center holds more than 300 beds after opening more than three years ago. It’s a high-barrier shelter, meaning that people referred must be clean and sober, and those who are admitted can stay for free for two months, sometimes longer, then have to get a job and pay rent.
The facility has now added a low-barrier emergency shelter as well, and is asking Multnomah County for $1 million.
Alan Evans, the CEO of Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers, which operates Bybee Lakes, told KOIN 6 News that all beds provided by the shelter should be important to Multnomah County.
“I don’t know why only the emergency beds are important to the county,” he said. “If assisting people the opportunity to become sustainable in our communities is not look as something vital, there’s a question for us. Why? Why don’t we invest in people to not become homeless again?”
Bybee Lakes did get $1 million from the City of Portland as well as state money to renovate the former jail, and United Way kicked in more than $1 million for the recent expansion.
Multnomah County focused for a long time on building more permanent housing rather than more shelters, but now it is focused on building more temporary shelters for those who still experience substance abuse issues.
In a one-on-one with KOIN 6 News on Monday, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson was asked whether Bybee Lakes would get money for doing more than just providing a temporary roof for people in need.
“It’s really having that conversation of how they can fit into the work that the county is doing, that the joint office and how we can make sure that all of the investments are going to have the most impact for the people with the most needs in our community,” she said.
Vega Pederson told KOIN 6 News she was also having meetings regarding the funding proposal submitted by Bybee Lakes.