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UPDATE: Hales and Novick express support, despite opposition from Fish



PORTLAMND TRIBUNE: JONATHAN HOUSE - The City Council will be asked to use this empty warehouse on the former Terminal 1 site as a homeless shelter.Commissioner Dan Saltzman will ask the City Council in early August to temporarily allow the empty warehouse on the city-owned Terminal 1 site in Northwest Portland to house hundreds of homeless people for18 months, and maybe longer.

“I will asked under the housing state of emergency we declared last we. We have a severe shortage of homeless shelters,” says Saltzman, who is charged of the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB). He told the Portland Tribune he will make the request during the week of Aug. 8.

The 14-acre site is zoned industrial was purchased by the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) with ratepayer funds to serve as a staging ground for the Big Pipe project to reduce combined sewer overflows into the Willamette River. The council has declared the property surplus and BES has put it up for sale under a council-approved process. The first bids could be received as soon as Monday.

The idea of using Terminal 1 for homeless services was first proposed months ago by local developer Homer Williams and Dike Dame, who has said it would be a suitable location for a large residential multi-service center similar to one in San Antonio. The idea is opposed by Commissioner Nick Fish, who is in charge of BES and says the city needs to maximize the use of its limited industrial lands.

Saltman’s proposal was first reported by The Oregonian on Thursday. In response, Fish issued a statement on Friday that said in part, “I am frankly shocked that any consideration would be given to concentrating vulnerable members of our community in an aging warehouse on the river.

“I continue to believe, based on the shortage of industrial land, the existing zoning, and the interests of our ratepayers, that we should use this property to promote family-wage jobs.”

Fish had previously sent the council a letter outlining his objections to using the property for a homeless shelter. You can read it here.

Mayor Charlie Hales supports the idea, according to his communications director, Sara Hottman. He praises various businesses and organizations that have provided or supported new shelters in recent months.

"Mayor Hales is fully supportive of Homer Williams' proposal and Commissioner Saltzman's efforts. The mayor has repeated the mantra that homelessness is a community-wide problem that needs community-wide solutions. He has unending praise for the Menashe family, the Multnomah Village neighborhood 'YIMBYs' (YES in my backyard), First Congregational Church, and other private sector, community and nonprofit groups for stepping up with solutions. Now, Homer Williams is doing the same — offering a plan and financing — and Mayor Hales is fully supportive," Hottman said in an email.

Commissioner Steve Novick says the idea is worth a try.

"I think we need to give Homer a chance to raise the money to make it work," says Novick.

Saltzman says his proposal does not preclude the eventual sale of the property, however, saying he will propose that BES lease the property to the PHB for 18 months, and then see what happens.

Whoever buys it probably won’t do anything with it for at least 18 months,” says Saltzman.

Williams and Dame originally estimated the cost of there project at $100 million and said the private sector would contribute much if not most of it. They have since suggested it could be done for less.