PORTLAND—The Portland Development Commission has made an offer to purchase the downtown property of a long-term homeless encampment. But recent statements by the mayor made it seem that the site, if bought, would be developed into anything but a place for the homeless.
The Portland Development Commission announced in Sept. that it made a verbal offer of $1.2 million to Michael Wright, the owner of a lot at Northwest 4th Avenue and Burnside Street. The site has been the location of a controversial homeless community Right to Dream Too for several years.
“I will not support a solution that includes the permanent location of Right to Dream within Old Town,” Hales said in the letter. “I know that promises have been made to the Old Town/Chinatown Neighborhood Association that there would not be further location of service providers or concentrated houseless populations within your boundaries. “
Backstory: Hales proposes new home for homeless camp
The city has tried to move the encampment for months but got caught in a jam in Oct when it attempted to move the camp to a permanent location under the Broadway Bridge in the upscale Pearl District. That offer was scuttled in Nov. when Pearl District neighbors and developers Homer Williams and Dike Dame put their foot down in opposition to the move.
Williams, Dame and Hales then offered up a Pearl District warehouse at Northwest 3rd Avenue and Hoyt Street last week as a temporary indoor home for the campers. Hales stated in his letter to Wright that offer was good starting Jan. 1 and would last no longer than 18 months.
Right to Dream Too has yet to respond to the offer.
PDC spokesman Shawn Ulhman said that the offer on the current R2D2 site had no expiration date and was a ‘starting point’ for negotiations. Ulhman said it was too early to say what the city would do with the site but that it would be developed as part of the overall strategy to revitalize the area.
The mayor has repeatedly stated that he wants to help find a long-term location for R2D2, but recent moves and statements make it unlikely he mean for them to stay in Old Town/Chinatown or The Pearl.