Open Door Housing Works and Open Door Housing Counseling have been helping people in Washington County who face issues regarding shelter and having a place to call home since 1984. This dynamic organization is located just on the West edge of Hillsboro on Tualatin Valley Highway. Based out of an unassuming home converted to offices and community space, Open Door does the work that few other groups have been able to do over the years.
Homelessness, now more commonly referred to as Houselessness, is a problem that has always existed. But we all know it is a problem that has exploded in the last decade or so. As things have become worse, they have become more visual. The daily exposure we now all have to those struggling without a home has brought the struggle into our views. There are few neighborhoods or business districts that have not seen a direct impact from those who have no place to live. We may not like what we see and feel for the suffering people, especially this time of the year. But imagine how it would be to be homeless and to suffer freezing temperatures and exposure. To have nowhere to get warm or to be secure. The facts of the matter are that there still is no full-time shelter in our community, but that is changing soon.
Thanks to the City of Hillsboro, which receives funding from Washington County via the Metro Supportive Housing Services Tax, our community will soon have a full-time shelter located at the corner of NE 17th and TV Highway just West of Winco. Located on that same site are some new Conestoga Shelters that have been recently completed, which Hillsboro staff have selected to have Open Door run for them. This is a testament to the organization, which is led by Jeremy Toevs, who is as dynamic and hard-working as they come.
From the City of Hillsboro Website-
Safe Rest Pods on SW 17th Avenue
The City of Hillsboro, Washington County, and OpenDoor Housing Works acted quickly to provide unhoused community members with temporary emergency shelter near Dairy Creek Park.
The Safe Rest Pods opened on October 21. Move-in is on a rolling basis as pod construction continues.
The temporary site meets critical community needs, mitigates unmanaged camping, and connects people experiencing homelessness to permanent housing options.
- Location: SW 17th Avenue and TV Highway
- Duration: October 2022 through March 2023
- Capacity: 30 to 40 individuals or couples
- Services: 24/7 onsite staff, mental health support, and housing navigation
The City acquired the property on SW 17th Avenue to create a future Year-Round Shelter and will continue to work with the County to provide a permanent shelter program — funded by the regional Supportive Housing Services measure — that is anticipated to open in late 2023. This short-term use will meet urgent needs without impacting the future Year-Round Shelter Project timeline. Read the latest updates below for more information.
Washington County is doing a tremendous amount to address this issue as well. With temperatures plunging, several agencies across the county are deploying Winter shelters that operate for 90 to 120 days. While not permanent,, these crucial facilities save lives and are the last line of defense for those on the edge. One of the largest and best run of these winter safe havens is the Clover Leaf winter shelter at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Open Door is running this shelter as well. In this video, we see former Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey, who is now a current Washington County Commissioner, helping assemble the bunks. Director Toevs is seen as well.
Open Door is a leader in the work that must be done in our communities. Nowhere is being hit harder than Hillsboro and Western Washington County, where housing prices are rising so rapidly. They provide shelter, food, warmth, showers, and a whole host of wrap-around services, including mental health counseling. This is a very important organization, and in partnership with the City and County, they are making a difference in the lives of so many people. We need more of this and lots of it.
Here is a little bit more on Open Door and what they do.
Full Disclosure: The author serves on the board of Open Door but has supported their work for many years.
I have been on and off the streets since 1986 and it’s very unsafe out there nowadays. Also,.those with homes are openly hostile towards helping us and people have been murdered just for being impoverished. In Multnomah County they’re making it a crime to be homeless and destitute and are planning on erecting 6 concentration camps to force folks into institutions. This will only make matters worse. Washington County is one of the wealthiest counties in the world and I have been quite bitter about its lack of support for those who suffer from poverty,.for DECADES. So,.although it’s nice to see you guys are finally starting to get with the program,.I just hope that it’s not too late.
Adam, I appreciate you coming forward. Have you found any way to move into a housed situation? I hope so. What are the biggest challenges and how can we do more that will make a difference. Moving the needle has been difficult. Only once the problem has become so visual are people starting to understand how bad it is. I get it..have seen it..and helped personally. I hope you are ok now. The discussion with people who face the issues first hand are very important and yet we do not see those things happening. Maybe we could collaborate on a story together? I am open and accessible. Wishing the best for you and all people who face this horrible circumstance.
Adam, thanks for your comments. Do you think the homeless shelters created by the local county governments are helpful or not? Your term of concentration camps and forcing folks into institutions is not what most of the population sees these shelter villages, but most of us wonder if they’re doing any good.
What about Work Camps of some sort – where folks are forced to live there, but if they want food and shelter it’s available if you’re willing to work for it. This plan is nearly 100 years old from the Great Depression of the 1930’s – but IT WORKED then – why couldn’t it work now?
Adam, Dirk and Jeff–excellent conversation–and article. There is also the motel Hillsboro bought, a year or two ago, near the Swimming Pool (State funding too I believe, as I know this is a statewide effort). There is one in Aloha also, was used for a while–and currently I am quite disappointed on the decision to close for remodeling–apparently extensively, as it is not done yet, and now it is winter and not being used!
Adam what are your thoughts on these efforts? I know too these include supportive services.
Regarding the work camps–quote at Roosevelt’s Washington DC memorial, he made during the Great Depression (and therefore his “New Deal” he created to help the unemployed) –has stuck with me for years:
“No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order.”
As a Hillsboro resident who sees houselessness as a crisis and do not believe there is one solution, i.e. “one size fits all” to solve said crisis, we need to (1) call out the issues we see AND (2) provide solutions! From Adam’s point of view, “6 concentration camps to force folks into institutions”, can you further define this statement and how YOU would resolve it? Also from Adam’s point of view, being in and out of housing over the years, “Washington County is one of the wealthiest counties in the world and I have been quite bitter about its lack of support for those who suffer from poverty”, my question back to you is if you were in charge of the budget, what would you recommend the focus of spending be for the county to benefit the most vulnerable in our community? We need to vocalize our solutions to come together, as a community to influence decision makers and help our residents get off the street and feel safe.