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Amid mounting housing crisis, Portland churches vow to shelter homeless families

The premise, pastors say, is simple. “These buildings are utilized a lot during the week, but in the evenings they're just kind of there,” said Pastor Daniel Rose.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Amid a mounting housing crisis, a growing list of Portland churches are banding together to shelter homeless families, starting next spring. The program, first reported by Street Roots, is run by a national nonprofit and based upon similar models in other cities.

The premise, pastors say, is simple.

“These buildings are utilized a lot during the week, but in the evenings they're just kind of there,” said Pastor Daniel Rose of Community of Christ in Northeast Portland.

“This is a way we can say like, let's partner with you to our neighbors ‘Let's partner with the city, and let's like do good together,’” said Pastor Jeremy Richards of Grant Park Church.

Rose and Richard, along with Pastor David Brink of Central Christian Church, represent three of nine churches who have already committed to the idea. Organizers with Family Promise of Metro East are hoping to get 13 on board. Once they have that list finalized, they plan to start sheltering three to four families every night, rotating them between churches every week. Most of the church buildings on their list come equipped with community rooms, kitchens and showers.

“We've got space,” said board chair Beckie Lee. ”We've got congregates who care and want to be part of the solution.”

The effort by Portland’s churches comes alongside a promise by the city to open organized, sanctioned camps, called “Safe Rest Villages." Officials have promised to open six of them, scattered throughout Portland, by the end of the year.

RELATED: Amid mounting housing crisis, Portland officials won't release Safe Rest Village locations this week, as planned

Officials had pledged to announce their locations this month. This week, staff with Housing Commissioner Dan Ryan’s office pulled back that expectation, promising to announce the locations of three sites Thursday. The rest will come as soon as possible.

Earlier this month Ryan told KGW despite the delay, the villages are on track to open by 2022.

“We're on the right step. We're taking action. We're doing what Portlanders are asking us to do,” he said.

Anyone interested in helping Family Promise of Metro East with the plan to shelter families in churches can visit Family Promise’s website or reach out to Lee at beckie@familypromisemetroeast.org.

RELATED: City council renews contract to protect and clean up downtown Portland