The Bridge Shelter program offers short term stays to individuals and families experiencing homelessness who are working to secure permanent housing. These programs use former hotel rooms to create safe and stable temporary shelter while providing onsite staff to support people living in the programs with housing and resource navigation, behavioral health needs and more. Each program is operated by a community-based partner who works in coordination with the greater system of care to connect guests from unsheltered housing to permanent housing as quickly as possible.
Washington County currently supports bridge shelter locations in Forest Grove (Casa Amparo) and in Hillsboro, with more to come! All referrals are coordinated through Community Connect.
For questions or concerns about these programs, reach Washington County staff at 503-846-4722 or [email protected]
Oregon's housing crisis has impacted Washington County. Rising housing costs have made it harder for working families to afford a decent place to live. The pandemic has worsened the situation for many residents of Washington County who have faced job losses, lack of childcare, COVID shutdowns, and other instability over the last year.
Last year, the Oregon Legislature’s Emergency Board allocated a total of $65 million for "Project Turnkey" — a program created to buy motels and hotels, underutilized during the pandemic, to serve as temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing wildfires.
In April 2021, Washington County was selected to receive a "Project Turnkey" grant of $6.15 million for the purchase of a 60-room Econo Lodge motel at 622 SE 10th Avenue in Hillsboro to establish a short-term respite shelter to serve as temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Washington County Board of County Commissioners has approved all funding and programming in support of the shelter program.
The Econo Lodge Bridge Shelter represents Washington County's first year-round shelter for homeless adults and other at-risk groups. The program serves people experiencing homelessness, especially people who experience prolonged homelessness with disabling conditions and those recovering from COVID-19. Participants of the program will work with housing case managers to find and secure stable housing.
The shelter is operated by Greater Good Northwest. Greater Good has extensive shelter management experience, particularly in shelters operating out of former motels. They provide individuals with a safe environment and needed resources, while assisting in finding permanent housing and stability. They partner with Bienestar and Urban League, who offer services at the site and do outreach to Latinx and African American individuals experiencing homelessness.
The County will operate the site for one year as a short-term respite shelter to temporarily house individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to connect shelter guests to permanent housing solutions. County staff will work with the community, Board of Commissioners, and the City of Hillsboro to determine the best use of the site moving forward, after the first year of operations.
Prior to July 2021, the Econo Lodge motel operated as a shelter through a program managed by the Salvation Army, partnered with the County for temporary hotel stays for individuals experiencing homelessness, and acted as a shelter during freezing temperatures.
Washington County is working to create thousands of new housing and shelter opportunities across our community. The county-wide search focused on building capacity, layout, near public transit, near healthcare and other services, turnaround time and purchase budget.
The Econo Lodge was selected because of its close proximity to the MAX and Bus line 57, external room entrances to limit the spread of COVID-19, nearby healthcare options, public library, and other services. It was also identified as the only suitable, available property without a cost-prohibitive ground lease.
Greater Good Northwest provides 24-hour onsite staffing, including staff trained in de-escalation techniques, and two behavioral health specialists onsite at all times. The site also has a camera system, key card entry to all rooms, and is located near the City of Hillsboro’s West Police Precinct. Greater Good staff have also worked to coordinate responses as needed with the Hillsboro Police Department.
With strong community support demonstrated by voter-approved Supportive Housing Services Levy in May of 2020, Washington County has been working to provide housing for people living outdoors and unsheltered. The Supportive Housing Services program will create 1,665 supportive housing placements in Washington County over the next five years.
Washington County is also working to increase shelter opportunities throughout the County with a goal of 250 year-round emergency shelter beds. Our shelter and housing programs have a strong emphasis on access and outreach to communities of color who have been traditionally underserved with housing options and are disproportionately impacted by housing instability.
To address the disproportionate impact of homelessness on traditionally underserved communities, our partners Bienestar and the Urban League of Portland will provide targeted, culturally responsive services to Black, Latinx, and other communities of color. Greater Good is also experienced in providing culturally responsive services for shelter guests.
Yes, the shelter and affordable housing projects are important contributions to county-wide efforts to create housing solutions that end homelessness in Washington County. The County has a severe shortage of affordable housing and is urgently working to create thousands of new housing placements and affordable apartment homes. Furthermore, year-round emergency shelter options are needed to help connect people back to housing solutions.
Project Turnkey Hillsboro is a low barrier shelter which means background checks are not used to screen out guests. The shelter prioritizes serving people who have experienced prolonged homelessness and are actively working on a housing plan with a Supportive Housing Services case manager, in coordination with the County-wide Community Connect system.
The Community Connect system starts with a call from an individual in need of services or referral from one of our partners (such as Bienestar and Urban League). Trained staff meet with the individual to determine what programs and support make the most sense. Because of the lack of affordable housing and shelter options in Washington County, there are many people already entered into the Community Connect system waiting for shelter placements to help them get back on their feet. These individuals will be prioritized for shelter entry.
The County and Greater Good are both interested in buying food and other goods needed for shelter operations locally from nearby businesses. If you have a service that may be relevant to the shelter program and are interested in partnering please reach out to Greater Good Northwest by contacting Rich Flamm. His email address is [email protected] and his phone number is (503) 545-7188.