Lents ‘Family Village’ homeless shelter opens

After long last, learn more about this outer East Portland family homeless shelter that opened recently near Lents Town Center …

Originally built by a church, this building has also been a community center; but now, it’s the home of the Family Village homeless family shelter.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although Lents neighbors first learned in December 2017 about a location available for a homeless shelter at 6220 SE 92nd Avenue, just south of Woodstock Boulevard, it took time to open it for the purpose; that happened on December 13.

Those passing the property, which includes an apartment building and a structure used by churches and later as a local Teen Challenge Center, first noticed the apartments being renovated late in 2019.

Government and agency officials gather on the main floor of the homeless shelter – where services will be provided to families – on the day of its opening.

A nonprofit organization, Portland Homeless Family Solutions (PHFS), bought the property – now known as the Family Village campus – In 2018.

The organization then devised a plan to renovate the property with help from community donations, plus $500,000 of City of Portland funds.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler tells why the City of Portland “invested” in this project.

When Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler arrived at the opening ceremony for the shelter, he told East Portland News, “It’s important for me to be here as a ‘statement of value’ – to say that we, as a community, are not going to allow families with small kids to live outside in the elements. Not now, and not ever.

“PHFS has been an important part of the coalition between the City of Portland and Multnomah County governments as providers of family shelter services,” Wheeler explained. “This is an important partnership which shows that we are continuing to provide shelter services that are meaningful – getting the most vulnerable [people] off the streets, and doing so in a way that is very effective.

After making his remarks, in one of the downstairs lodging units, Mayor Wheeler checks out one of the shelter’s bunk beds – as Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and PHFS Executive Director Brandi Tuck watch.

“When people come to this facility, they’ll see that it’s very nice – it’s a welcoming facility – and is going to connect these families to whatever services they need to get off, and stay off, the streets – by providing follow-on services to help these families get into, and stay in, permanent housing,” Wheeler said.

At full capacity, the “Family Village” campus is offering ’round-the-clock safety, and services, to as many as 25 families at a time – constituting some 100 kids and parents.

Individuals and corporations contributed to the project, in addition to government funding, says PHFS Executive Director Brandi Tuck.

At the opening ceremony, PHFS Executive Director Brandi Tuck remarked that the apartment buildings at the same complex, sited on the northern area of the property, has been sheltering families for about a year – and is expected to be turned into permanent housing.

“We had more than 1,000 contributors; we had lots of corporations contributing, as well as smaller contributors,” Tuck said. “This is a $3 million total project – including an acre of land, the apartment buildings, and the main center building.”

Starting that evening, the center was moving in the first two families, in a process that will lead up to the full complement of 25 families. Each family will be assigned their own dorm-like room, with a secure door.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury tells how needed services will be offered to homeless families within the shelter.

“We are so excited about the promise that this shelter holds for the families who will come,” exclaimed Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “In addition to the families having their sleeping spaces, they won’t have to leave during the day to get services, because they’ll be provided here.”

She was pleased to see this facility open in her district, says Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson.

“Having this facility here in outer East Portland is critical,” said Multnomah County District 3 Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson. “Families need stability, health and peace. We know the shelters are not the only solution, but for the families to be lodged here tonight – In a warm, dry, and safe place – this shelter is a good start.”

Officials, dignitaries and staff gather, as PHFS Executive Director Brandi Tuck uses giant scissors to snip a ceremonial ribbon to officially open the Family Village campus.

The cost of operating the campus and shelter is about $800,000 year, of which $525,000 comes from the  A Home for Everyone and the Joint Office of Homeless Services, with the balance of the funding provided by private contributions.

Find out more about Portland Homeless Family Solutions by visiting their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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