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Community organizations invited to pitch ideas for alternative shelter sites

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A homeless person walks gingerly along Southwest Broadway on Friday, Feb. 12, during a rare snow storm in  Portland. The city and county are seeking community proposals for alternative shelter options.Portland and Multnomah County are soliciting proposals for new homeless shelter options in the county.

According to the Joint Office of Homeless Services, proposals from community-based organizations with ideas or solutions on creating new shelter options will be accepted until March 9.

"These new options would add to the housing-focused response system built by the Joint Office since 2016," JOHS noted in a request for proposals. "That system includes more than 1,300 yearround, 24-hour shelter beds; supportive housing to help people end homelessness by not just gaining housing but keeping it; and new models of street outreach."

Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran met recently with the Hillsdale Alliance, to give a glimpse at what the city and county are seeking.

"For the first time ever we are going to be coming out with a request for community organizations and members to come forward with their best ideas for what they would like as a community," Meieran said. "We are facing a humanitarian crisis of people living unsheltered on our streets. We are very well focusing on the bigger picture and what's happening long term, but we also need to focus on what's happening in real time in the real world for people who are suffering and living on the streets. There hasn't been enough opportunity to plug in at a community level."

SCREENSHOT - Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran talks with the Hillsdale Alliance on Feb. 4 about how Southwest Portlanders can help homeless neighbors.The commissioner encouraged the community group to "bring forward innovative ideas, thoughts or solutions to try out."

How will it work?

As a first step, the Joint Office is launching a Request for Programmatic Qualifications, or RFPQ, process. Proposals must be submitted by March 9.

"Proposals can be fully developed or relatively preliminary at this stage," JOHS stated. "We don't want the process to be a barrier to getting your ideas."

Those who run into technical challenges are urged to contact Kathi Braeme-Burr, senior procurement analyst at Multnomah County, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-988-7550.

What kinds of alternative services are being sought?

Proposers may offer to provide a wide range of alternative shelter options (e.g.

villages, safe parking programs, modular shelters, etc.). Shelter options can be indoor or outdoor. Proposers are encouraged to identify a site, but that's not required.

Any proposal that shows an improvement for participants versus sleeping unsheltered in unsanctioned public spaces will be considered. JOHS said proposals will be evaluated through an equity lens and on a range of factors, including the population served, geographic equity, readiness to proceed and the amount of support for program participants offered relative to program cost.

How much funding is available in total?

The Joint Office is proposing $3 million to support alternative shelter projects. Up to $1 million is anticipated to cover ongoing operations costs, while the balance will likely support one-time start-up costs.

How can an interested organization start the process?

Read a PDF of the RFPQ here. Use Marketplace to submit your proposal.

Organizations should detail the program they would like to operate. Those details will help determine which proposals advance to a second round of consideration, or lead to additional requests for information.

Questions to consider include:

•Tell us about your organization. Do you have experience with the kind of shelter proposed, or with the population the program would serve?

•Tell us how the program would operate. Who would it serve? Would it offer culturally responsive/specific services? How many people? Which services will be offered? Will it have barriers to access? What size staff?

•How the program would look and where it would be located. Is there a site?

What kinds of pods/buildings would it need? Are any site improvements needed?

Budget and costs. How much would it cost to staff and operate? How much would it cost to set up? Would it leverage other community support?

•Community engagement. What nearby stakeholders will engage around support?

Proposals will be scored and qualified during a second stage of the process.

To learn more, visit A Home for Everyone or visit the MultCo Marketplace

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