Thanks to all that attended Monday night’s passionate community meeting regarding the Foster Shelter Plan. Clearly this is a divisive issue, and we are lucky to have so many people with deep commitments to the success of Foster road.
We counted 200 people inside, with reports of up to another 200 people waiting outside. Several media outlets were present, including KOIN 6, KGW 8, KATU 2, and The Bee. We heard testimony both from elected officials and many passionate community members. Video of the full meeting can be found on our facebook page,
We expect that the proposed shelter plan will get a lot of ongoing coverage, and we are grateful to the Foster Area business owners who showed up to give informed, respectful and concerned testimony in such a high profile meeting. FABA members Alex Krebs of Tango Berretin and Justin Amrine of Starday Tavern both contributed compelling testimony and asked incisive questions. Alex and Justin both own businesses in close proximity to the proposed shelter location, and both have been exceptional community members for many years. We also saw moving testimony from Ernesto Fonseca of Hacienda CDC (the nonprofit behind the success of the Mercado), Sam Nayebi of Bread and Roses Market, and many others from the business community raising valid concerns.
What We Know So Far
• Proposed Location—6144 SE Foster in the building that once hosted Winly Cash & Carry
• Proposed Capacity—approximately 100 adults (prioritized populations include women, couples, individuals with disabilities, veterans)
• Proposed Operator—Transition Projects
• Proposed Structure—low-barrier, reservation-only shelter (no queuing outside) open 24/7; on-site showers, laundry, storage for belongings, support services/staff; pets allowed
• Proposed Timeline—opening late summer or early fall 2018
• Why Foster—2017 ‘Point in Time’ count of homeless neighbors found 22% were counted in SE Portland between the Willamette River and 82nd Avenue (a larger share overall than were counted in downtown/Old Town)
The tone of the meeting was at times more passionate than informative, however we did learn a few new things.
1. “The decision has been made.” Although officials emphasized that this is “the beginning and not the end of the process,” they also indicated that the plan is definitely going ahead. Like you, we have some questions as to what exactly this means, and we will be following up with city and county officials.
2. It doesn’t have to be a low barrier shelter. Mayor Wheeler indicated that the shelter could increase the barrier of entry as a way to address concerns about crime and behavior.
We hope this is the beginning of a collaborative process with the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) to address the shelter in the context of the historical disinvestment in East Portland, lack of adequate police presence, the closing of the nearest major grocery store, and neglected infrastructure.
Your all-volunteer Foster Area Business Association (FABA) board was represented at the community meeting by president Matthew Mičetić and organizer Dane Fredericks. We live streamed the meeting on our facebook page and created Being An Effective Advocate, Testimony, and Contacting Elected Officials tips at our website as well as a handy contact sheet.
We are writing a letter to Mayor Wheeler expressing our wish that FABA, which represents Foster’s creative business owners, job creators deeply invested in the community with a strong sense of social responsibility, had been approached at an earlier stage of the planning to give meaningful input and mitigate community impact.
We will be inviting the mayor to our January board meeting to further discuss the plan. As the planning process continues, we intend to advocate with the mayor and the county to ensure that the shelter plan includes meaningful provisions for public safety, business impact, and continued investment in infrastructure to serve all Foster Area residents.
What You Can Do
Whether you like it, hate it, or have suggestions to improve it—we want to hear from you!
• Email [email protected] to tell us how you feel about the current proposal and how it may impact your business
• Call or write the Multnomah County Commission and Portland City Council and tell them how you feel about the proposed shelter following the hearing
• RSVP to the FABA Meeting on 1/9/18 at 6pm at Carts on Foster to discuss our community response to the proposal