Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith have cut a deal to place a homeless shelter in a PPS building near the music venue Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland.
The terms, according to PPS spokesman Jon Isaacs: The city gets free rent and in return promises the district ongoing funding for school security and student bus passes.
That's money the city has provided in the past, but that has repeatedly been on the budget chopping block, Isaacs says. The city has historically provided a third of the funding for the high school bus passes, dividing costs with the school district and TriMet.
As part of the tentative agreement between Superintendent Smith and Mayor Hales, the city will rent the PPS storage building at the south end of the former Washington High School campus on Southeast Morrison Street.
Most of the high school campus has been sold, and the old auditorium is now Revolution Hall.
As WW reported Friday, the city is looking to open a shelter patterned after San Francisco's Navigation Center, which attempts to welcome more homeless people by allowing them to bring in their belongings, pets and partners, instead of imposing restrictions that drive people away from homeless shelters.
The deal still needs to go through the city budget process, Isaacs noted.
PPS School Board member Steve Buel has suggested another condition: The services at the shelter should be provided first to students in the district and their families.
"I suggested, if they get a homeless shelter," said Buel, "we have a thousand kids who are homeless—how about if we focus on those families if we're loaning this?"
State numbers show that in the 2014-15 school year, PPS had 1,325 students considered homeless, the vast majority of whom were living doubled up with other families. In all, 92 were on the streets; the rest were in shelters, hotels or doubled up in other people's homes.
Clarification: The Washington High School building planned for a homeless center is on the far end of the campus from Revolution Hall. This story originally implied the buildings are immediately adjacent.