CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore – Clackamas County is moving forward with a plan to provide temporary transitional shelter for homeless veterans, through a partnership with Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities was picked because it had the most feasible grant application: It proposed constructing 30 sleeping pods, a community kitchen, showers and restrooms, as well as a community room and fully-equipped work shed on-site.
The goal is to have 15 sleeping pods ready before December 2017. The rest of the pods will be built on-site by the first veterans who live there.
The community will be at the south end of Southeast 115th Avenue near the Fred Meyer Distribution Center, on Clackamas County Development Agency property.
The sleeping pods will be weather resistant, insulated and vented for all seasons. The county now begins negotiations with Catholic Charities to develop an operations plan.
Catholic Charities collaborated on the Kenton Women's Village, and the pods could look similar to the tiny homes constructed there for homeless women. However, details are still in the beginning stages. Catholic Charities Executive Director Deacon Richard Birkel says the project is another way to help people get back on their feet.
“One woman said to me, at Kenton Village, that God intended her to be here, that she was greatly relieved,” Birkel said. Catholic Charities also provides services and outreach.
But neighbors like Gary Stevens have some questions about the project. Stevens owns Gary's Mustangs. His building is right next door to the field where the pods would be constructed.
Stevens says, years ago, there were problems with homeless people committing crimes in the area, and he is worried about what will happen with this project, even though he was told there would be a 24-hour guard.
"You can't incarcerate people," Stevens said. He also worries about a lack of sidewalks, and lack of transportation.
"You get out on Jennifer, the very first street you come to, there's no sidewalks there. There's no bus route. I don't know how these people are going to get around," he said.
Stevens said the county told him it would provide transportation, but he worries about what will happen when the money runs out. He was also told the pods would only be in the area for a year, but he questions if that will be the case.
During the 2016-17 budgeting process, the Board set aside $300,000 to help develop a shelter community for houseless veterans.
A Clackamas County spokesman Tim Heider told KGW plans are still unfolding and the county is seeking a conditional use permit for the site. Information about that can be found here.
The county will hold two public hearings on the matter.
Planning Commission Meeting
6:30pm, Monday July 10, 2017
Location: Development Services Building Auditorium, 150 Beavercreek Road., Oregon City
Board of County Commissioners
10:30am, Wednesday August 2, 2017
Location Public Services Building, 4th Floor Board Hearing Room, 2051 Kaen Rd, Oregon City