Taft Home Is Still Vacant Nearly a Year After It Displaced 70 Low-Income Seniors

Earlier this year, WW found that the building’s demise revealed a web of nonprofits, private caretakers, and public bureaucrats who largely waited on each other to step in as things went wrong.

A residential hotel that closed last December after serving low-income and disabled seniors for decades remains shuttered nearly a year after it vacated the building of the 70 vulnerable seniors who called it home.

The Taft Home, an old hotel in Southwest Portland, closed after its longtime private operator Concepts in Community Living bowed out after being told by state regulators that it needed to remedy dozens of building violations or shut down. It chose to shut down.

Instead of seeking another operator, Reach Community Development Corporation, the nonprofit that owns the hotel, closed its doors. Seventy seniors—including at least two that ended up homeless—were scattered to similar facilities across the state, some as far away as Independence, Ore.

In a cover story in July, WW told the story of former Taft resident Josephine Allen. At the time, she was living in a tent across the street from the Taft. She’s cycled in and out of shelters since then, spending the brutal winter last year outside, warming her hands and feet with small fires.

WW spent more than two months reviewing public records and speaking to state regulators, city officials, and former tenants and staffers about what happened inside the Taft Home. The newspaper’s investigation found that the building itself was not in structural disrepair. Reach CDC and city officials said they were waiting on the results of an analysis of how much upgrades to the building would cost.

That report is now complete. And the Taft Home remains closed, despite a critical housing shortage across the city and a deepening homelessness crisis. A spokeswoman for Reach CDC says the report it commissioned found that needed renovations to the building would cost $25 million to $30 million.

“Reach does not have enough capital to renovate the building without some support, and we are exploring possible funding sources,” Lauren Schmidt says. “And as part of this process, we are exploring if there are partnerships with other operators that would help make this happen.”

Schmidt says those conversations are “exploratory” right now, so “it is too early to share anything about possible partners without permission.”