Getting people off the street and into shelters quickly is of the utmost importance. Portland has the resources to get all the homeless off the street, but the resources are not being used effectively. My plan calls for shelters that are specifically designed to be rapidly deployed. When Portland reaches the point when the shelters are not needed for the homeless, they can be re-purposed easily. Imagine 27 shelters turned into community centers in Portland. They can be used for a variety of things such as neighborhood events or after-school programs. It is important to note that these shelters are not tents, they are solid structures that were designed in the United States and are used all over the world.
Investing in our mental healthcare system and addiction recovery services is imperative. Addressing the underlying causes of homelessness must be addressed. These services work hand-in-hand with my shelter program.
Why safe rest villages are a bad idea.
1) Too little for too much:
The six proposed safe rest villages will provide 360 beds at a cost of $20,000,000. That comes to a cost of $55,555 per bed. According to the last point in time count in 2019, there were 4,000 homeless in Multnomah County (the numbers are certainly higher now). Therefore, to end homelessness in Multnomah county these villages would cost $222,220,000.
2) Too little too late:
Even the six proposed villages will take several years to erect as they weren’t designed with rapid deployment in mind. If somehow we managed to finance building the 67 villages required to house the homeless population as of 2019, construction would never be able to keep up with the homeless population.
The shelters would consist of a large Quonset hut and a few modular outbuildings. These are the same buildings used by the military for rapidly deployed offices, housing, hospitals, and such. These shelters can be constructed and fully furnished for far less than one million dollars, and provide 150 beds.
2) Speed of deployment:
Once a site has been selected it should take a matter of weeks to construct the Quonset hut, and have the shelter open for business.
3) The Contract
When talking about the homeless it is important to remember that every homeless person is an individual with their own specific needs and concerns. That is why each and every individual staying at a shelter will, upon admission have a client contract that is customized to that individual. The purpose of the contract is both to ensure that the client is aware of what is required of them, as well as to help the shelter ensure that all required services are available on location.
There are some homeless people that just need a chance to succeed. There are homeless people living in their cars, and still working full-time jobs. Likely a contract for this person would involve only them and the shelter manager. The goal would be to get them into some kind of permanent housing as quickly as possible. However, unfortunately, this represents a tiny minority of the homeless population. Most of these people have several issues that either contributed to them being homeless in the first place or developed shortly after becoming homeless. In cases like these, the contract would involve several more people.
It could involve a social worker, a judge, a medical doctor, a drug rehab specialist, a mental health professional, a shelter manager, and a probation officer, just to name a few. Further, the services required by the contract would have to be available at the shelter in question. This would also allow the ability to specialize shelters. Some shelters would have medical staff available around the clock, some could be reserved for veterans, where a veteran services specialist would be available.
Clearly, this is and will be a work in progress. We’ll learn as we move forward… however, if we don’t move forward, we won’t learn. I am the only candidate that has even the outline of a plan to end homelessness in Portland. That is why I am asking for your vote!