When it was a motel, the Days Inn on Northeast 82nd Avenue got some rugged reviews.
“We were planning to stay for three nights, happy we only booked one at the time,” said a 2018 review on TripAdvisor. “Our pillows on the bed had bloodstains, our bathtub water didn’t drain, the staff was very unfriendly.”
Multnomah County is betting that it will be better under new management. The county bought the property for $4.2 million in 2020 and used it as a shelter for people with underlying illnesses that put them at risk for COVID-19. The county used federal CARES Act money to pay part of the purchase price.
This week, the 40-bed motel will reopen as a homeless shelter, and it will have 24-hour mental health services provided by New Narrative, a nonprofit founded in 1977 that provides mental health services, housing programs, and peer support and mentoring services to adults with mental illness.
The county is using money from the Metro regional government’s supportive housing services measure to pay for the shelter’s operations. The measure became a hot-button issue earlier this year when People for Portland, a business-backed advocacy group, proposed a ballot initiative that would reroute 75% of the expected $250 million in annual revenue to providing shelter beds and require cities to enforce camping laws before receiving long-term funds.
“One of our laser focuses is getting housing and mental health services together, right now,” said Multnomah County spokesman Denis Theriault. “If people wonder what the Metro dollars are doing, this is it.”
The new facility is classified as “transition housing,” meaning people stay for weeks or months while they find more permanent housing, with the help of counselors. New Narrative has 38 similar facilities in the Portland area.