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July 26th, 2006 Josh Silverman | News Stories
 

Street Strife

Portland homeless youth shelters try to avoid homelessness themselves.

     
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Portland's only homeless-youth shelters, Streetlight and Porchlight, have been scrambling to find a new home after failing to reach a temporary agreement with the new owner of their building.

Both shelters are run by Janus Youth Programs, which provides 60 beds and other services to Portland teenagers at its current location at 820 SW Oak St.

Janus executive director Dennis Morrow says the building's owner, developer Howard Dietrich, insisted Janus sign a new five-year lease at nearly 50 percent more per square foot in order to occupy the second floor of a building they once used entirely. Dietrich wouldn't let Janus stay an extra two to four months to prepare a new location and insisted the shelters leave by Aug. 1, Morrow says.

Dietrich, in the news elsewhere for trying to site Wal-Marts in Sellwood and Hayden Island, did not return WW's messages seeking comment on the two shelters.

Morrow says Multnomah County appears to have found a temporary home for the shelters, but he's still fuming at Dietrich for "using these youths as a political chip."

"Losing Janus would have been devastating to a youth homeless system we spent years designing," adds Kathy Oliver, executive director of another homeless-service provider, Outside In.

Janus had rented the Southwest Oak Street building from the Salvation Army before Dietrich bought it last year for New Avenues for Youth, which provides long-term housing and job training for homeless youth. New Avenues had outgrown its home at 812 SW 10th Ave., says executive director Ken Cowdery.

 
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