Portland’s new homeless shelter will open Monday
After years of planning and debate, a new homeless shelter was unveiled in the outskirts of Portland Wednesday.
The 208-bed Homeless Services Center will provide meals, day space, outside space, and wraparound services such as medical, dental, and psychiatric care.
It will replace the 154-bed downtown Oxford Street Shelter, where Anya Caron was a former client. She described her experience at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"It's overwhelming, it's scary, it's unfair, and it makes you feel like the whole world is working against you," said Caron. "It requires hard work and determination and a lot of luck to get out of that place."
Caron said the new center is a major improvement, but the location, which is roughly 15 minutes from downtown, is not ideal. Portland officials say they'll operate a shuttle for clients who need to go into town. Caron also stressed that "stopping homelessness before it happens is far more effective than helping after the fact."
That comment drew applause from ceremony attendees. And mayor Kate Snyder acknowledged that there's more work to do to solve the homelessness crisis across the state.
"Every day, we're seeing more people arrive in the city of Portland who need housing, who need shelter, and who need services," Snyder said. "So we know that piecemeal, siloed responses by individual communities doesn't work. And we know that these 208 beds will not serve everybody who's in need."
Snyder says the city is seeking assistance from regional, state, and federal partners to create comprehensive solutions to homelessness. The new center in Portland will open Monday.