UPDATE: Nonprofit homeless leader disputes county's 'illusory' accusation about Wapato offer
The Multnomah County Attorney's Office has branded a $7 million offer to buy the never-opened Wapato jail for a homeless shelter and service center as "illusory."
The Harbor of Hope, a nonprofit organization founded by developer and homeless advocate Homer Williams, has offered to buy the North Portland facility from the county. The County Commission is scheduled to consider a proposal from another developer to buy the unused jail for $5 million on Thursday.
But, in an April 9 memo to County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Assistant County Attorney Ken Elliott says Williams' offer is "illusory" because his organization would be able to deduct unexpected costs from the purchase price after obtaining the title to the property.
"The County has no right to cancel the deal, and the purchaser has the absolute right to deduct all renovation cost from the purchase price. That's why I characterize the offer as 'illusory,'" reads the memo.
Oregon Harbor of Hope Director Don Mazziotti calls the conclusion is wrong and "very disappointing."
"The proposal put forward by the Oregon Harbor of Hope would, potentially and pending study, produce a major public benefit In addressing the county's most-serious social and economic problem — affecting thousands of adults, women, children and families," Mazziotti tells the Portland Tribune.
On Thursday the commission will consider an offer from Portland developer Marty Kehoe to buy Wapato for $5 million. The commission previusly agreed to sell the 18-acre site in North Portland to Kehoe for $10.8 million. Kehoe withdrew that offer but now says he is willing to buy it for $5 million.
Commissioner Loretta Smith has called for the reduced offer to be rejected and Wapato used for the homeless. Kafoury has consistently opposed all proposals to use the unopened 525-bed facility for the homeless.
Williams announced on Monday that his nonprofit organization will open a "navigation center" and temporary shelter for homeless people near the west end of the Broadway Bridge. Start up costs will be funded by a $1.5 million donation from Columbia Sportswear president and CEO Tim Boyle.
Don Mazziotti, the executive director of Harbor of Hope, says the organzation is still pursuing its offer on Wapato, whch is not connected to the Pearl District navigation center and shelter.
You can read the memo here.
To read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue,go to portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/391942-284006-new-portland-homeless-navigation-center-announced.