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Homer Williams, a major player in the creation of the Pearl District, thinks big with tiny homes, public property

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon Harbor of Hope's River District Navigation Center on Northwest Naito Avenue, which aims to get people from unhoused to housed in 90 days. One of the leading developers of Portland's Pearl District says the city's homeless situation is about to worsen if local leaders don't jump on board with his vision.

Developer Homer Williams has spent the last several years of his retirement dedicating his mind and money to solving the homeless crisis in the Portland metro area.

Williams first launched the Oregon Harbor of Hope shelter to provide people essential services to stabilize their lives. He said nearly half of the people who use the shelter also go to work every day. PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Retired Portland Developer Homer Williams encourages people to donaate for a homeless services Navigation Center during the opening of the homeless shelter in 2019.

"We can't expect people to live like animals," Williams said. "Everybody deserves a safe place. It doesn't have to be an apartment but they do deserve a good night's sleep; they do deserve hygiene; they do deserve food and medical care. If they need it, we can provide that for everybody."

Williams has a vision for creating managed communities to serve as a step between shelters and apartments, where people can have their own space and utilize common services to get back on their feet. He worked with a local manufacturer to design pop-up tiny homes that can be constructed in just 15 minutes and are much cheaper than the tiny homes built in other villages.

Williams said he is in talks with the city of Portland about using a publicly owned piece of property to open the first managed community by the end of June. Eventually, Williams wants to open villages across the city to accommodate as many as 20,000 people.

Williams also favors buying up motels for homeless residents, and he's sponsored a program, Home Share Oregon, an online service that matches people who have extra bedrooms in their homes with people who can only afford a small amount for rent.

Fields said there are 1.5 million homes in Oregon with a spare bedroom. If just 2% of homeowners participated in the program, 30,000 people would have an affordable place to live.

KOIN 6 News is a partner of Pamplin Media Group. See the full KOIN story here.

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