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February 1, 2021

Portland looks for help developing homeless shelter

Courtesy / City of Portland A map shows the location of a 200-person homeless shelter planned in the Riverton neighborhood of Portland.

The city of Portland expects to soon issue a request for qualifications from businesses interested in developing a 200-person homeless shelter in the Riverton neighborhood, and will hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss the project.

The shelter, to be built on vacant, city-owned land at 654 Riverside St., would provide housing, meals, health services, counseling, job assistance and other help for adults experiencing homelessness, and would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There would also be offices, parking and lockers for about 20 staff members.

The facility would replace the Oxford Street Shelter, which is “poorly configured,” according to a city memo, and has long been criticized as inadequate for the increasing number of Mainers in need of services. A new, off-peninsula shelter was first proposed over two years ago.

Portland officials are hoping to find a developer to construct and own the Homeless Service Center, which the city would then lease for up to $1.4 million annually over 20 years.

In June 2019, the Portland City Council approved the creation of the new shelter, and since then has explored various options for funding it.

“We believe this approach will be the fastest and most cost-effective way to establish the much-needed resource and leverage proven public-private partnership tactics, which lead to on-time and on-budget projects,” City Manager Jon Jennings said in the memo.

The council’s Housing and Economic Development Committee is scheduled to discuss the RFQ in a meeting to be held virtually at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, after which the request is expected to be finalized and issued. For more information, click here.

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February 15, 2021
Giving the fact that there are several new shelter options within the city coming on line including forty new beds at the former Preble street facility and the proposed 55 and over shelter near the Barron center, shouldn’t your first question to the city be why they are perusing a shelter of this size in Riverton ? Not only was this type of shelter strongly apposed by the Riverton community but also many professionals that work with our homeless throughout the city , state and country. We keep hearing from the city on how hard they have worked to place the burden of a shelter of this magnitude on one community and at the same time ignored any input or ideas from the very neighborhood who will bare the lifetime impact of a twentieth century approach to taking care of our most vulnerable . From the beginning Riverton has welcomed a shelter in our neighborhood but feel we should not have to absorb a shelter of this size because the city council came to a conclusion that by exhausting all other options within the city ,the answer is Riverside st. We are still trying to work with the city but to no avail our voices continue to fall on deaf ears. Just because there was this supposed exhaustive search and hours of work to place a mega shelter within the city still does not mean that a 200 plus bed shelter on the edge of town as far away from our hospitals and all other public services in the city does not make it right.
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