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Columbia CEO, Portland developer funding 'innovative' homeless shelter in Portland

The shelter is set to open by the end of the summer or early fall on city-owned land near the western end of the Broadway Bridge.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The nonprofit Oregon Harbor of Hope announced Tuesday morning a private-public partnership to address homelessness that will include a new 100-bed shelter in Old Town.

The shelter is set to open by the end of the summer or early fall on city-owned land near the western end of the Broadway Bridge.

Longtime Portland real estate developer and businessman Homer Williams, who founded Oregon Harbor of Hope, joined Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, Mayor Ted Wheeler, Chair Deborah Kafoury, Portland State University President Rahmat Shoureshi, and David Bangsberg, the Founding Dean of the joint Oregon Health & Science University – PSU School of Public Health, to announce the partnership.

Boyle will give $1.5 million to help pay for the shelter and services center.

Boyle, who recently opened a flagship Columbia Sportswear store in downtown Portland, has expressed concern about the safety of the store's employees after they reported being harassed by homeless people at the store.

Read more: Columbia CEO concerned about safety of downtown employees

“I’m here today because I care about Portland. I grew up here, our business is here, we’re trying to attract more employees to the city, to our place of business, and that’s why I decided it’s important to invest in our project,” he said.

Boyle said he hopes the shelter is a step toward helping his employees and others in downtown Portland feel safer.

"I think the public safety issues have improved," he said. "I know this because our employees are telling us this. You just have to walk around downtown to see the evidence of homelessness and it needs to be dealt with beyond just a strict public safety issue. People need to be comfortable and safe and that’s an important area."

Boyle's gift is a donation to the Oregon Harbor of Hope organization and the shelter is intended to be a place where homeless people can get a full range of services.

"We would not be standing here today if it was not for Tim," Homer Williams said at Tuesday's press conference.

Williams said he would personally help cover a significant portion of operating costs, which will be between $1.5 to $2 million each year. The city said it planned to donate the land the shelter will sit on.

The shelter will provide showers, laundry facilities, and bathrooms, and additional services to help homeless people.

"Most importantly, we're going to connect people with services they need for their individual circumstances," said Mayor Ted Wheeler.

The mayor noted that this shelter concept is different from other initiatives, in that it brings together the political and business communities.

"This project is going to serve as a proof of concept that public-private partnerships can work to help address this humanitarian crisis," he said.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury called the project "innovative."

"This collaboration shows just how far we've come over the last three years," she said.

Williams said in addition to the services at the shelter, staff there will also provide outreach in metro-area schools, as approximately 4,000 kids in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties do not have home addresses.

He also called on residents to dedicate their own time to addressing homelessness and projected a future with more shelters throughout the city.

"We'll have shelters in every neighborhood and neighborhoods need to embrace that and they need to be safe places and well-run," he said.

The team made the announcement at 9:00 a.m. from the Mariott Residence Inn in Northwest Portland, which Williams built with his development group Williams & Dame.

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