Update, 4:12 pm: The Terminal 1 dream is dead.
Less than an hour after we posted this, Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman ended the suspense: The bid to put a homeless shelter at Terminal 1 is off.
In a statement to media, Saltzman says: "Unfortunately, Harbor of Hope will not be ready to open its shelter soon enough to meet the City’s needs. We are therefore moving forward with other options for opening a winter shelter."
The announcement, coming amid pressure from lawyers, other officials, and the city's business community, appears to end any chance of Terminal 1 becoming a shelter space—to say nothing of the mecca for homeless services developer Homer Williams and his partners have pitched for months.
The property, which was for sale before this misadventure began, will "absolutely" go back on the market, according to Sonia Schmanski, chief of staff to Commissioner Nick Fish. Fish runs the Bureau of Environmental Services, which had been trying to reap millions from the sale of Terminal 1 before being instructed to halt by City Council.
What becomes of Williams' proposals—and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he'd raised to transform Terminal 1—is unclear. He didn't return calls asking for comment.
"I am very grateful to Homer Williams, Harbor of Hope and all of the private sector donors and supporters of the project," Saltzman said in his statement. "I hope to continue to engage them in efforts to work to shelter and house our communities most vulnerable unhoused residents."
Call it Right 2 Dream Too 2.
After months of hazy details, Portland developer Homer Williams and his partners have finally announced an operator they'd like to run a new emergency shelter at the city's Terminal 1. In a document sent to city council members yesterday, Williams' nonprofit, Harbor of Hope, says it's tapping Ibrahim Mubarak as general manager.
Mubarak is the well-regarded co-founder of Right 2 Dream Too, the homeless rest area that's sat beneath the Chinatown Gate for the past five years (and is struggling in its attempts to move). And after months of quiet push and pull—in which more traditional shelter operators like Transitions Projects have balked—Harbor of Hope says Mubarak is the man to make its new 100-bed shelter a success.
"Ibrahim Mubarak is experienced in all aspects of managing a homeless shelter and programming and knows and is known by virtually all of the homeless leaders, advocates and organizations in Portland and beyond," reads a seven-page proposal [PDF] city officials received yesterday.
Harbor of Hope says Union Gospel Mission will also be affiliated with the project, though the extent of that involvement is unclear.
As we've written about before, the question of who would operate the Terminal 1 shelter on a day-to-day basis has loomed large among the many uncertainties surrounding the proposal.
But for all the good will that Mubarak and R2DToo have in this city, they might not be enough to quell those concerns. Officials have said repeatedly they're looking for a more-traditional service provider to operate the place. Inquiries about the arrangement sent to Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office and the Portland Housing Bureau haven't been answered.
For his part, Mubarak confirms he intends to act as general manager of the Terminal 1 shelter, should it go forward. He says he'd like to establish a 24/7 service that operates a lot of like Right 2 Dream Too, albeit indoors and with more space.
But Mubarak's not oblivious to the fact the city might be skeptical.
"My understanding from what I’m hearing from some people that are involved in Harbor of Hope is that the city wants someone like [Transitions Projects] or [Central City Concern]," he says. "I think that’s hitting below the belt for grassroots organizers. We can prove that we're doing things the right way because of the success of people who come here."
Mubarak cites hundreds of people who have gotten into housing, found jobs, or kept their children because of his group's help. He bristles at the notion that more established providers are seen as more qualified, despite that track record.
"We have more success," he says.
Again, the exact division of labor Williams and his group envision are a bit unclear. The group's proposals, which includes a 26-page business plan (see below), make mention of Union Gospel Mission (UGM) being involved, but don't give much detail. The charity runs an emergency shelter during the winter months, but doesn't have experience sheltering the houseless year round. Even so, officials like Marc Jolin, head of the county's new Joint Office of Homeless Services, have said UGM would be an adequate operator at Terminal 1.
Mubarak says UGM's role won't go that far. He anticipates the charity will act as a referral service for people who'd like a spot at the Terminal 1 shelter, screening out people who could cause problems.
Also hazy: How much money Harbor of Hope has raised to get the shelter going. The nonprofit estimates it'll take between $250,000 and $300,000 to make the space shelter-ready, and $400,000-500,000 to run the shelter for six months. The organization appears to suggest it has that much lined up, writing in its proposal:
Oregon Harbor of Hope, Inc. has the funding necessary to operate the shelter for 6 months and more, with a fully-developed budget and the participation of professional medical, dental, mental health, architecture, construction, security, lighting, alarms, ventilation, food and social service providers, drawn from the private sector and at no direct cost to the public.
The group's business plan talks of three tiers shelter residents would be placed in, once admitted:
•a "transient pod" where residents would be given a mat until they show "an interest in staying in the facility on a nightly basis, an intent to follow the rules and an interested [sic] in becoming a part of the community...:
•a "provisional pod" in which "they will be given the opportunity to serve others in the community with job opportunities within the facility"
•and "program pods where bed space and allocation is more significant than the provisional or transient pods."
The new details come at a crucial time for city and county officials. As winter sets in, there's a rush to identify new shelter space to keep Portland's ballooning homeless population out of the rain and cold.
It also comes as the Portland Business Alliance renews it's call that Terminal 1 be left for industrial uses. According to city hall sources, PBA President Sandra McDonough fired off an email today calling the property a distraction.
What happens next is anyone's guess. The Housing Bureau, which is supposed to lease Terminal 1 from the city's Bureau of Environmental Services, has been sitting on that lease agreement while it waits on specifics.
The terms of the lease could determine whether the city faces legal consequences for the arrangement. Local attorney John DiLorenzo argues it would be illegal for BES to lease the property at below market rate (Commissioner Nick Fish has said the same). The city received offers to purchase the 14.5-acre property for as much as $10 million, before scuttling that process in order to create a shelter.
Here's the business plan Harbor of Hope submitted.