Skip to main content

Clackamas County funds $10 million for homeless health and services center

The nonprofit Homeless Solutions Coalition plans to build a Navigation Center in Oregon City next year
Patrons of the proposed Navigation Center in Oregon City would encounter a staffed front desk to direct them to services located inside the building. | RAYMOND RENDLEMAN/©PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP/USED WITH PERMISSION
November 2, 2023

Homeless Solutions Coalition of Clackamas County’s plans to build a new Navigation Center in Oregon City got a boost in November when county officials announced they would fund $10 million of the nonprofit organization’s goal to raise about $20 million for the project.

HSCCC and county officials said that the property purchase price was $4.25 million, while its renovations are expected to cost between $15-16 million.

HSCCC Board President Dan Fowler said that he was hopeful that the Navigation Center would soon be able to raise the additional funding it needs for renovation through private donations and other governmental grants. He believes the center is still on track to open next year.

“Our new resource center will reduce homelessness in this area by consolidating the various nonprofit resources our most vulnerable neighbors need to weather, avoid and escape this harrowing condition,” Fowler said.

After renovations of Miles Fiberglass’ vacant building at 15th Street, various services such as health care, legal support, job training and links to permanent housing will be designed to work together under one roof, rather than asking homeless people to walk to various parts of town to find help.

“This is a historic moment for Clackamas County — a moment that I celebrate,” said County Chair Tootie Smith of the property purchase and $10 million grant.

Bearing Architecture has envisioned a lobby and enclosed courtyard set back from Main Street in Oregon City for the proposed Navigation Center.

For many years, Father’s Heart and its neighbors have wanted the homeless services facility to move from its current residential location to a building in a commercial or industrial area. Father’s Heart has needed more office and storage space, and HSCCC leaders have said that a proposed Navigation Center at the former Miles Fiberglass facility would offer space to serve Oregon City’s homeless population more effectively.

Fowler envisions the center providing homeless people with “one-stop shopping like a hospital” that provides a range of health and social services. Like a hospital, Fowler said, the Navigation Center might have to refer people with unique issues to an outside specialist, but most services could be contained within one building.

Initial architectural renderings of the proposed Navigation Center showed how the building’s lobby and courtyard would be set back from Main Street. Rounded edges to key architectural features seek to be “trauma informed.”

Participants in the recent presentations addressed concerns that the Navigation Center might become an “attractive nuisance” by bringing more homelessness to Oregon City. Clackamas County Human Services Deputy Director Adam Brown said Oregon City is already home to Father’s Heart and many other service providers sought by homeless people.

Brown said that homelessness issues in Clackamas County would be much worse currently without the help of dedicated professionals over the past several years. Having the professionals working together under one roof, Brown said, would provide more coordination on services toward the county’s goal to make instances of homelessness “rare, brief and non-recurring.”

The former manufacturing facility, valued by the county assessor at around $3.2 million, is being purchased by HSCCC. The group then hopes to renovate the building so that Father’s Heart, LoveOne and other potential service providers can move in by 2025.

In the meantime, the street ministry will operate as usual as a homeless day center and as an emergency overnight warming shelter when forecast temperatures drop below 32 degrees with wind chill.

Raymond Rendleman is a journalist with Pamplin Media Group. He can be reached at [email protected]. This article was originally published by Pamplin Media Group. It has been republished here with permission.