A memorial for homeless people who have died in Multnomah County and a 3-acre Victory Garden were dedicated at the Bybee Lake Hope Center on Thursday, May 27.
The center is a homeless shelter and residential treatment center in the former Multnomah County Wapato Jail in North Portland. The never-opened facility was purchased by developer and philanthropist Jordan Schnitzer and is being operated by Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers, a nonprofit social service organization founded by CEO Alan Evans.
Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan helped dedicate the Homeless Memorial and Victory Garden. His brother, Mark, died homeless in Portland in November 2013. The family had been unable to find mentsl health and drug addiction treeatment servicves for him. Evans said his name will be the first on the memorial.
"There are a lot of people like me who have lost loved ones to houselessness," said Ryan, who praised Evans' organization, which operates 11 facilities in five Oregon counties.
The event was hosted by VetREST, a nonprofit that works with veterans to address post-traumatic stress and mental health challenges through community gardening. The garden already includes 120 donated fruit-bearing trees, 40 donated blueberry plants, vegetable garden beds, and 30 native trees and shrubs donated by Friends of Trees. There are plans to add raised garden beds, an ADA-accessible teaching greenhouse, solar panels for energy efficiency, and meditative walking paths with physical activity stations.
The healthy food grown in the garden will help feed the residents of the center, said Ron White, executive director of VetREST's Oregon chapter.
The center opened last October with 76 shelter beds and 56 residential treatment beds. An additional 220 beds are under construction, along with medical facilities, an industrial-strength laundry, and a covered kennel. So far, all of the work and operational costs have been paid by private donors and grants that support the vision Schnitzer had for the property when he arranged to purchase it from the county three years ago.
A previous Portland Tribune story on the center can be found here.
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