PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland’s largest shelter for homeless families has been evacuated because of safety concerns after a leaky roof caused a partial ceiling collapse, Multnomah County officials said Thursday.
The building, the former site of a restaurant and strip club, has experienced problems with water and gas leaks for several years, records show.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that more than 100 people have been relocated to a nearby church as the county tries to place them in longer-term motel rooms.
The station said it had been planning a series of stories on the shelter’s health and safety issues. In addition to the leaky roof, residents have described natural gas leaks and an infestation of rats.
The shelter operated by Human Solutions opened two years ago. The building dates to the 1970s, and was previously a restaurant and then a strip club.
The shelter was part of Portland and Multnomah County’s effort to boost the number of shelter beds in response to skyrocketing rents and housing prices.
The decision to evacuate the shelter was made after the ceiling collapse Wednesday.
“Wherever possible, families will move into permanent housing placements, as those become available,” the county said in its announcement. It said officials will seek to ensure that children remain connected to their schools, and that parents stay connected with needed services.
County records show Human Solutions reported similar leaks causing portions of the interior drywall and insulation to fall in 2016. Records also confirm that gas leaks have been a persistent problem.
Human Solutions paid $950,000 for the building in 2015. The county provided a $300,000 loan and almost $400,000 for renovations.
In interviews with OPB, Human Solutions Executive Director Andy Miller defended his organization’s decision to purchase the building. He said the organization knew the roof was in poor condition, but expected it would last five to 10 years.
Information from: KOPB-, http://www.opb.org