A nonprofit backed by Portland real-estate developer Homer Williams is offering $7 million in cash to buy the Wapato Jail and turn it into a homeless shelter.
Wapato, the never-used Multnomah County facility, has long been eyed as a shelter—although the idea is controversial, and has been repeatedly rejected by county commissioners.
Last week, a deal to sell the jail to developer Marty Kehoe for a medical-supply warehouse showed signs of falling apart. In a letter dated yesterday, the Williams-founded nonprofit Oregon Harbor of Hope placed a $7 million cash offer on the property.
"We believe that such a facility would reduce the overall costs of meeting the needs of our houseless people," Don Mazziotti, director of Harbor of Hope, wrote in a April 2 letter to Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.
For years, Williams has been floating ideas for a big response to the homeless crisis — from emulating the San Antonio-style mass shelter Haven for Hope to a complicated land swap involving swapping a golf course.
Williams also tried and failed to get ahold of then city-owned property, Terminal 1, in Northwest Portland to open a mass shelter.
The new offer for Wapato includes $250,000 in refundable earnest money and a request for 120 days to study whether their plans are feasible, OPB reported.