CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — On Thursday night the Clackamas County Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of buying a Quality Inn to transform it into transitional housing. The inn is located at 9717 Southeast Sunnyside Road near Interstate 205.
County officials said the price of the hotel will be $15.2 million. Most of it will be paid for with state funding and Metro affordable housing bond funds.
During the more than three hours of public testimony — nearly 90 people signed up to speak. Those in favor of the so-called "Project Turnkey" said they felt it would be a good fit for a community struggling with homelessness.
“We cannot continue to allow people to suffer thinking there is a better, elusive hotel somewhere else when there is a real hotel that can hold very real people here and now,” testified one person at the meeting.
Besides housing, those who live at the hotel will receive wrap-around services including behavioral and physical health help and housing navigation. No drugs, alcohol or weapons will be allowed and walk-up services will not be offered. Those who move in will do so by referral only, through county services.
Many who were opposed to the project worried about how transitional housing would impact surrounding businesses.
“I'm not opposed to Project Turnkey, however, I am opposed to the location you selected,” testified Tom Ellis, who is also the mayor of Happy Valley. “This is a high density business district and as we all know brick and mortar businesses are struggling right now after the pandemic.”
Commissioners Mark Shull and Ben West voted no on Project Turnkey. Commissioners Martha Schrader and Paul Savas voted yes. Chair Tootie Smith was the tie-breaking yes vote and explained her decision was based around the desire to address homelessness in Clackamas County.
“I was elected to solve problems,” said Smith. “This is something that this board has inherited for the last two years and as a public official we are trying to solve this problem.”
The county will now enter a 30-day escrow period as the purchase of the hotel moves forward. They will also begin the process of choosing an agency to run the wrap around services.