VOA Site No Longer Considered for Outdoor Shelter

The City of Portland will not pursue a Volunteers of America (VOA) Oregon owned property for shelter use. On March 8th, VOA Oregon’s CEO, Kay Toran, explained in a public letter that the site at 8815 NE Glisan Street did not meet the City’s requirements for their tent-based housing and support service hub. The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed on February 18th that the 5.8-acre VOA property could become an alternative outdoor shelter for up to 150 people experiencing houselessness. However, those early conversations did not yield a short-term lease, and City staff will continue searching for new properties elsewhere.

The VOA letter says that the site is larger than the City needed for an encampment, and the sloped parking lot was not ideal for their planned use. VOA Oregon purchased the property on NE Glisan Street from Central Bible Church in May of 2021. In an interview published in the Montavilla News last October, Kay Toran outlined a multi-year plan to transform the site into a headquarters and treatment center for the organization. Those plans continue to develop and will lead to the eventual demolition of existing structures on the property. Groundbreaking on new buildings is several years away.

This update follows weeks of community conversations over the potential use of the NE Glisan Street property. The message also arrived the same day as several Montavilla residents expressed their concerns at City Council. Those conversations also included comments regarding two Multnomah County-owned sites in development. Although the VOA site is no longer in consideration for houseless support, the City will continue its efforts to find a solution to unsanctioned camping in Portland.

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