Tag: Columbia Christian

Community Meetings on Alternative Shelters

Last week began and ended with community meetings regarding the placement of alternative outdoor shelters in Montavilla. Meeting attendees expressed mixed support for the temporary housing program, and a significant number of residents voiced their disappointment with County communication regarding these shelter projects. Elected officials presented at both gatherings, but many community members’ concerns remain unanswered as the area residents wait for Multnomah County to engage in public conversations.

Organizers scheduled the two meetings soon after The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed that a 5.8-acre Volunteers of America (VOA) Oregon property could become an alternative outdoor shelter for up to 150 people experiencing houselessness. However, those early conversations did not produce a short-term lease for 8815 NE Glisan Street, and City staff will continue searching for locations outside of Montavilla. Some residents were concerned that this section of Portland was taking on an undue burden from government groups looking to address the housing emergency. At the end of December, Montavilla News broke the story that Multnomah County purchased two automotive sales lots along SE 82nd Avenue, with at least one location becoming an outdoor alternative shelter. The Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) recently announced that Straightway Services will operate a Safe Park alternative shelter at 333 SE 82nd Avenue.

The Safe Park model allows Portlanders experiencing vehicular homelessness to park and utilize their vehicles for shelter. The fully managed site will provide safety, sanitation, and case management to invited residents looking to transition off the street. Shelter rules prohibit Recreational Vehicle (RV) parking and unsanctioned camping at this location. The nonprofit provider, Straightway Services, will maintain staff onsite at all hours of the day and be responsible for managing the location’s residents. The site is already fenced and awaiting the demolition of the former sales office. JOHS staff expect residents to move in later this year.

JOHS has not announced plans for the second County-owned site at 1818 SE 82nd Avenue. However, they have indicated it will also address the shelter needs of the unhoused. Montavilla already hosts a County supported alternative outdoor shelter called Beacon Village, north of NE Glisan Street. That location is widely considered a successful implementation, and the County often cites it as an example in its communications. When these two new 82nd Avenue locations open, the County will have three alternative outdoor shelters within close proximity to each other, prompting questions from neighborhood residents about site selection diversity.

Mayor Ted Wheeler speaking at the March 18th, 2023, town hall

Saints Peter & Paul Episcopal Church hosted a Stand for Compassion gathering on Sunday, March 12th. Multnomah County Commissioner Diane Rosenbaum and State Representative Khanh Pham spoke briefly at the event. Over a dozen community members attended the gathering that focused on engaging in supportive conversations around the Safe Park site. Most attendees of this meeting felt hopeful about the program and appreciated that some new models of shelter support were coming to the neighborhood.

The Columbia Christian School hosted a town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon in their Eastside Church of Christ chapel. This event was coordinated by Safe Rest PDX and attended by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who spoke for an hour. With the VOA site no longer considered for a City run temporary shelter site, his conversation focused on the program’s ambitions to end unsanctioned camping in Portland and his belief that it was the most humane solution to getting people off the street quickly. Event organizers took written questions from the audience for the Mayor and selected a few to ask. After he concluded his portion of the meeting, the two hundred attendees thinned out considerably, and the TV news crews from KoinKGWKATU, and KPTV packed up their equipment. The event continued for almost another hour, with speakers sharing their experience engaging the unhoused and expressing concern over JOHS’s lack of communication. Examples of the County’s short Cummings centered around missing several self-imposed deadlines for mailing information to residents near 333 SE 82nd Avenue and the lack of County attendance at their meeting. Outside of the written questions for the Mayor, organizers asked attendees to refrain from speaking. However, they collected people’s concerns through a survey and plan to share those comments at a future date.

During Mayor Wheeler’s time at the lectern, he informed the crowd that the City was not planning to have any other large 150-person camps sited in Montavilla, limiting the future alternative shelters to the three County locations. JOHS and Straightway Services are committed to holding a public conversation with the community closer to the site’s opening and signing a Good Neighbor Agreement with the local business and neighborhood associations. Until then, there will likely remain a gap in public information beyond what is available on the County’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage for the Montavilla Safe Park.

Disclosure: The Author of this article servers on the boards of Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association, 82nd Avenue Business Association, and Montavilla Neighborhood Association. Those groups will work with Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services and Straightway Services to draft a Good Neighbor Agreement for the Safe Park Village on SE 82nd Avenue.

Two Townhomes Join 1925 House

The new owners of a 1925 era home at 400 NE 91st Avenue recently demolished a detached garage on the property, making way for two new townhomes. The 100-foot by 100-foot wide lot is across NE 91st Avenue from Columbia Christian School and abutting the campus’s northeast parking lot. Crews will remodel the original home during the site’s redevelopment.

Google Maps view of 400 NE 91st Avenue

The 1,328 square foot building at the site is part of the original four dwellings built on this block nearly a century ago. The single-story home wore the address of 102 East 91st Street N before Portland’s Great Renumbering of 1931-1933. The removed garage was not original to the property.

1928 Sanborn Map – 102 East 91st Street N

FX Homes bought this site in October of 2021. They now propose the construction of two single-story townhomes on the southern half of the property. The low-slung scope of the development will match the stature of surrounding homes in the area. Houses on this segment of NE 91st Ave are effectively situated within the Columbia Christian School campus, creating a unique residential atmosphere with street activities tied closely to the school’s schedule.

Although early in the process, redevelopment of this site appears to take queues from the existing architecture in the area and respect the scale of the neighboring properties. By retaining a classic Portland home, the developers should appease preservationists while adding more housing to the neighborhood. Look for increased construction work at this site later in the year and the creation of two new homes.

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