PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon officials say they’re working on a plan to turn old hotels into shelters for the houseless.
State legislative leaders met Friday afternoon to approve spending $65 million in state funds for community organizations to purchase and remodel distressed hotel and motel properties as part of Project Turnkey.
Half of the money would go toward buying properties to house wildfire victims across Oregon who have lost their homes, while the rest would be used to help those who are houseless for other reasons.
Project Turnkey aims to buy the properties and remodel them in time to help people in need this winter. The organization is hoping to find properties that don’t require significant repairs in order to shelter guests. An advisory committee will work to find ideal properties across the state.
Megan Loeb with the Oregon Community Foundation said the repurposed motels can serve long-term as shelters, transitional housing or, eventually, permanent supportive housing.
“The model provides a cost-effective way to both meet the immediate needs for non-congregate shelter and our long term housing needs,” said Loeb.
With cooler temperatures settling into the Pacific Northwest, securing housing for those in need is a time-sensitive goal Project Turnkey hopes to achieve.
“This morning I walked the dog in my winter coat—a sharp reminder that winter is at the door, and we have some many vulnerable community members who need a safe way to shelter through the winter months. We believe Project Turnkey is the most cost-effective way to make this happen,” said Loeb.
Project Turnkey is one initiative that is part of a larger $390 million wildfire relief package from the Joint Legislative Emergency Board. Funds were also allocated toward shelter support, schools, debris removal, and a statewide alert system.