The Portland City Council will host a second public workshop Tuesday on possible policy solutions to the city’s homeless encampment crisis.
Tuesday afternoon’s workshop will be a follow-up to a previous Sept. 14 workshop, in which Mayor Kate Snyder and the Council discussed a proposal to temporarily increase the emergency shelter capacity at Portland’s Homeless Services Center (HSC).
The HSC currently has 208 beds, each of which has been occupied every night since its opening on March 27, 2023.
City leadership hopes that a new $4.59 million 180-bed shelter for single asylum seekers which is being built in Portland’s Riverton neighborhood will free up beds at the HSC.
The proposal would involve the declaration of a “temporary limited emergency” at the HSC, and the relaxation of certain city ordinances related to building regulations and fire prevention codes.
The relaxation of the ordinances would allow City Manager Danielle West to authorize the installation an additional 150 beds at the HSC — a project which West estimates would cost $134,762.
That cost, according to a memo sent by West to the City Council last Friday, does not include the expense of additional showers or bathrooms at the HSC that may be required due to the increased capacity.
A draft of the Council’s Declaration of a State of Limited Emergency states that so far in 2023, there have been seven fatalities at the city’s encampments — one a homicide, and six fatal overdoses.
On June 4, 2023, City staff observed a total of 168 tents citywide — a number which has since grown to 248 tents as of this Tuesday.
The City’s Encampment Crisis Response Team (ECRT) is currently focusing its efforts on resolving the encampment at the Marginal Way Park and Ride, a process which involves an attempt to connect homeless individuals living in the encampment to services and potential housing opportunities before eventually ‘sweeping’ the encampment.
The emergency order draft states that the ECRT’s Sept. 6 sweep of the Fore River Parkway encampment cost the City more than $65,000 — and resulted in just 18 housing placements out of the almost 100 individuals living in the encampment.
Tuesday’s workshop, which begins at 5:00 p.m. and will be held in the Portland City Hall’s Council Chambers, will include a 90-minute public comment period.