Multnomah County to open 6 new shelters by end of 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah County Commissioners, local leaders, and the community talked about reducing homelessness at a Thursday meeting.

By the end of 2016, the county will have opened six new shelters for the most vulnerable, including families with children, couples, people with disabilities, people experiencing domestic violence and veterans.

The county is on pace to more than double the number of publicly-funded shelter beds, by adding 650, for a total of 1,240 beds.

The county is also working on strategies to keep people in their homes through rent and energy assistance, and working to help people move out of shelters and into housing, to open more beds.

The topic of using the Wapato Jail as a shelter was also discussed Thursday. The jail is not included in the six shelters the county plans to open this year.

Some people think the jail would be great as a shelter, because it has never been used as a jail facility.  Others think it is too far away from services, and too expensive.

According to a presentation at the county meeting, it would cost the county about $953,000 to improve Wapato before it would be safe to open as a shelter. Then, there would be operating costs in the future.

The presentation also noted the jail has a lack of cellphone service and limited internet. Safety during a fire was also discussed because the doors are reinforced.


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