Portland is in need of a new homeless shelter, but city officials face neighborhood resistance in seemingly every location they might put one.
Tuesday night, a City Council committee discussed three possible sites for a new one. Those locations — on Riverside Street, 431 Commercial St. and on County Way — are being considered after the city’s first proposal near the Barron Center hospital on Brighton Avenue was withdrawn, in large part because of pushback from nearby residents.
More than 30 people spoke during the city’s Health and Human Services Committee’s public comment period Tuesday night.
The majority of those who stepped forward say that they disapprove of the three locations that are under consideration.
“I believe the city of Portland should be more transparent and offer at least a few more options on the table,” Micheal Stuckmeyer of Homeless Voices for Justice said.
The new spot will replace the city’s current Oxford Street Shelter, which is old and overcrowded.
“The Oxford Street shelter is filled to capacity. People are literally sleeping in chairs in overflow spaces,” Portland resident Sherryl Narkins said.
People lined up during public comment to say the three proposed spots have different issues.
Many say the Riverside location is too far from the bus system and County Way site is too close to the jail.
A few people favored the Commercial Street location, known as Angelo’s Acre, but even then, there are concerns.
“Not to mention that the smells, sounds and dangers of the working waterfront will definitely impact livability. Would any of you want to live across the street from a working waterfront?” Portland resident Carolyn Sylvias said.
The committee says it has a lot to weigh before making a decision on which spot is the best fit for a shelter.
“Certainly, every site, the three sites we’re looking at, they all have some serious challenges so we’re really going to have to work hard,” committee member Belinda Ray said.
The committee will have another meeting in April, and then submit its recommendation to the City Council, which would approve the new homeless shelter location.
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