Roughly 110 people who'd been staying in the county's largest family homeless shelter are being moved into motel rooms today, after collapsed sheetrock raised fresh concerns about the integrity of the roof on Wednesday.
Multnomah County officials announced in a press release this morning that the Human Solutions Family Center, 16015 SE Stark, was evacuated on Wednesday. It will remain closed for weeks, at least, as its operator figures out whether it's safe to inhabit. Depending on the outcome of that inspection, the shelter might not re-open at all.
"Today, county employees will assist Human Solutions as they move families into longer-term motel rooms," the county's announcement says. "Wherever possible, families will move into permanent housing placements, as those become available. That work will also ensure children remain connected to their schools through this transition, and that parents stay connected with services until they can move into homes of their own."
The roof of the shelter, a former strip club that was opened to homeless families two years ago, had already had a tarp over it before further damage reported Wednesday, according to Denis Theriault, a spokesperson for the county's Joint Office of Homeless Services.
"It had been a little bit of concern," he says. " The ceiling damage that was reported Wednesday shows that this was not as contained as folks there thought."
Officials moved shelter residents to a nearby church on Wednesday afternoon, the county says.
The loss of the building could be a blow to a homeless system that's struggled to support a huge swell of homeless families. Last year, the county announced it was rescinding a "no turn away" policy at the shelter because sheer demand had made the policy infeasible.
Officials had planned to use the building as a shelter for six years, before demolishing it and turning it into housing. That might no longer be feasible, depending on the prognosis for the roof, Theriault says. He adds that the county will commit to serving people who'd been staying in the building.
"I don't know we can really say what will happen," Theriault says. "We need to wait for the assessment."
The county has spent roughly $700,000 on the building, including $400,000 for renovations, and $300,000 to help Human Solutions purchase the property.