Residents reach Good Neighbor Agreement with Southeast Foster homeless shelter

An inside look at the homeless shelter on Southeast Foster Road that will serve women and couples. (KATU Photo)

A committee made up of neighbors and businesses have come up with an agreement for a new homeless shelter on Southeast Foster Road.

The Steering Committee recently finalized the Good Neighbor Agreement that sets guidelines for the Foster Shelter.

Multnomah County and the city of Portland announced the project in December 2017. The shelter is set to open early next year.

The 24-hour shelter will be run by Transition Projects, an organization that runs other area shelters. The 120-bed facility will serve women and couples. It will be located near 61st Avenue.

"(Neighbors) want to have a very clear line of contact if there's an issue," said Denis Theriault with the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

The committee spent months coming up with the agreement.

The guidelines require the shelter to limit litter, control crowds and smoking.

Guests must follow rules or be excluded from services.

Transition Projects must offer a 24/7 line for people to report issues and make complaints.

If a complaint isn't resolved in a two-week period, the Joint Office of Homeless Services must refer the issue to a third party to solve the problem.

"Cautious optimism is the best way to describe it. That's still how I feel about it," said Shawn Morgan, a member of the steering committee and the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association.

Morgan lives a mile away from the shelter.

"Being a good neighbor is about having good communication and having a shared desire to make the community better," he said.

The shelter is right next to a 7-Eleven and a new brewery that is currently under construction.

Behind the shelter is a school, Mt. Scott Learning Center. The school's executive director, Tom DeJardin, said his first priority is the safety of students. He said they are waiting to see what impact the shelter will have.

Southeast Allied Communities is the most vocal opponent of the project. They criticized the agreement that is not legally binding.

To start being a good neighbor would have been engaging and having discussions with the neighborhood before signing a lease on the property. This is a non-binding agreement that holds no one accountable, not Transition Projects, not the JOHS, not Marc Jolin and has no metrics of success or failure in being a 'good neighbor'. The JOHS uses the good neighbor agreement to distance themselves from responsibility by using the shelter operator (Transition Projects) as the primary point of contact. It could take 5 weeks before a complaint would be escalated to a third party. With the potential in the future that the shelter operator could be changed the agreement becomes even less valid. Additionally there is no contact information in the 'Good Neighbor Agreement', when the JOHS and Transition Projects should already have these systems already in place for other shelters.
The committee was hand picked by Vega Pederson's office, and the general neighbors were only given 10 minutes of comment period per meeting.
The 1000 ft circle doesn't really cover the area of potential impact.
There is nothing in the agreement that limits the scope of what the shelter can be.

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