Beaverton purchases property for first-ever year-round shelter
After over year of planning, Beaverton has finally purchased property to build the city's first year-round shelter off Southwest Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway near Highway 217.
Beaverton city councilors unanimously voted to approve the decision to purchase the standalone commercial building, with 12,000 square feet of space, in April.
City leaders selected the space because of its central location near transit, food, social service agencies and employment opportunities, according to Beaverton's website.
The shelter will be open every day, 24/7, and it will provide beds, meals, showers and a clinic space for guests. It will be operated by Washington County in partnership with a contracted service provider, according to the site.
Beaverton spokesperson Dianna Ballash said there will be a competitive process to select a nonprofit operator of the shelter, which will involve some public engagement. Beaverton and Washington County will put together an intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, to lay out how the shelter will be operated, she said. The City Council will need to sign off on that agreement.
Funding for the purchase and development of the shelter will come from state and federal funding, according to city officials, who expects to receive about $4.5 million — with some money coming from the federal American Rescue Act.
"I believe that we need this facility in the city. The tradeoff for me is between camps and a shelter. We need a shelter. We need a place for people to go other than camps scattered all over the town," Beaverton City Council President Marc San Soucie said in an April 19 meeting.
The shelter will be "low-barrier," Ballash said, meaning there will be minimal requirements for entry. High-barrier shelters, on the other hand, place more requirements on guests, often restricting substance use, requiring program participation and more.
"The shelter will be for adults, age 18 and older, but we do not anticipate any other screening criteria at this time in keeping with a housing-first model of sheltering that is a best practice in the field," Ballash said.
She added that there may be guidelines that guests agree to upon entry, which will likely include no drug or alcohol use onsite, "but at this stage, we do not have those fully outlined," she said.
The shelter will not have walk-up services, Ballash said, and guests will have to enroll through Community Connect, the county's entry system, to be assigned a bed.
Councilor Laura Mitchell said in the April meeting that the new shelter will be a big step in the right direction for Beaverton, and it'll be a chance for the city to prove it can host a successful shelter. She also said Beaverton should learn from the example of poorly managed shelters in neighboring areas.
Although the shelter is an important step for Beaverton, Councilors Allison Tivnon and Ashley Hartmeier-Prigg agreed that there's more for City Hall still to do.
"This is an interim step to help get people into permanent housing," Hartmeier-Prigg said. "And I know that housing is not the only thing that we need, but it is a first step to help get people somewhere safe and off the streets."
Tivnon added that the clinic at the shelter will help stabilize people's situations so they can make the next step into permanent housing.
It's possible the location of the property could cause traffic issues, San Soucie said, but every location that officials could consider would come with those concerns. He added that there are many traffic signals in the immediate area, so in the location of the purchased property, it should be manageable, he said.
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