Homer Williams: Harbor of Hope ‘has to happen’

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Too important not too succeed. 

That’s what Homer Williams, a well-known developer, thinks of his Harbor of Hope project, an endeavor aimed at changing Portland’s homeless problem, three years after the city declared it an emergency. But if it eventually succeeds — like Williams plans — that means the project has to overcome being $500,000 over budget just over a month after it started. 

Lisa Marandas, the Deputy Director of Harbor of Hope, told The Oregonian that the group has spent in the $600,000 range cleaning up a site in the Pearl, under the Broadway Bridge, for the 120-bed, 24-7 navigation center that will provide the homeless multiple services, including medical care and drug rehabilitation. The group originally estimated the cost to be $100,000. 

“There may be some cost issues, but there is no question that the project is going to go ahead,” Williams said. “We are confident that it is moving ahead — full-steam ahead.”

A rendering of a planned facility at Harbor of Hope, developer Homer Williams' plan to get Portland's homeless off the streets and back on their feet, April 2018 (KOIN)

Williams said the extra funds will come from donors. 

“This is so important that it has to happen,” he said.

“This problem is not going away; it’s only going to accelerate.

“Whether it is a million in a half or two million or whatever it is, we need to take it and we need to engage it.”

The city, which is providing the site and permitting for the transitional shelter, is hoping Williams’ pilot program succeeds. 

Berk Nelson, a senior adviser to Mayor Ted Wheeler, said Harbor of Hope, or something similar, is something they hope will be beneficial to Portland. 

“This is a pilot project that we would like to spread throughout the city,” Nelson said. “We know that the first time going through we need to make sure that is actually feasible.

“This is the first time that there has been a public-and-private partnership to try to help the humanitarian crisis that is houselessness, (which) is going on throughout the entire country. We are trying to set an example that works.”

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