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Mayor Charlie Hales' Bold Plan for a Homeless Navigation Center Lasted 84 Days

The city struggles with sticking to a plan to address a shelter-bed shortage.

In March, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales used his final State of the City address to announce a bold step in addressing homelessness: a new, innovative type of shelter called the Navigation Center.

Planned for the former Washington High School campus in Southeast Portland's Buckman neighborhood, it was to provide shelter to 100 people a night, with an array of social services in one location, including, if the city followed San Francisco's model closely, health clinics and counseling.

But less than three months later, the Navigation Center died a quiet death behind closed doors, in an email where the mayor's chief of staff described it as "too complicated."

The death of the Navigation Center is the latest setback for a city that cannot seem to stick to a single plan long enough to address a critical shortage of shelter beds.

Here's the lifespan of the project.

March 25, 2016

Hales delivers his State of the City address. "The City is partnering with Portland Public Schools to use a now-empty building for…an innovation in how shelters operate in a way that builds on people's inherent dignity. A Navigation Center will help us provide people a path away from trauma, off the streets, and into a successful life."

June 17, 2016

Hales' chief of staff, Josh Alpert, emails the school district. "We are not going to move further on the site—it's too expensive, too complicated, and in the end, not worth it for our purposes."

Lifespan of the Navigation Center: 84 days

Lifespan of Gov. John Kitzhaber's fourth term: 37 days

Lifespan of the Malheur occupation: 41 days

Lifespan of a dragonfly: 120 days