By Natalie Roadarmel
Columbia CEO Tim Boyle has just announced that he will be donating $1.5 million towards a new homeless shelter in Portland. This shelter will hold 100 beds and will offer the homeless a place to eat, sleep, do laundry, bathe and have access to health and social services. It will be located under the Broadway Bridge, and is planned to be 9,000 square feet, along with a 2,500 square foot service center. The building will be surrounded by an eight-foot chain-link fence covered in black vinyl. Inside the fence will be two rows of six-foot tall hedges. Besides the shelter itself, the land will include a community garden along with storage containers and nine parking spaces designated for staff.
Boyle is one of Oregon’s only billionaires and he has been very vocal about his critique of the treatment of the homeless population in downtown Portland. He has expressed previous concern over the safety of downtown Portland when he moved parts of his business, Columbia, to the area. He has stated that this donation is his way of taking personal action.
Boyle’s personal money will be given in the form of a donation to Oregon Harbor of Hope. This is a nonprofit managed by real estate developers who are working to find solutions for Portland’s homelessness issue. “I care about Portland. I grew up here. Our business is here,” stated Boyle during a recent press conference. “ We ’ r e trying to attract more employees to the city, to our place of business, and that’s why I’ve decided it’s important to invest in the project.”
This gift comes after a recent article critiquing Oregon’s treatment of the homeless. This article was written by Boyle and published by the Oregonian. In the article, Boyle was very clear about his concern of the safety of downtown Portland and the safety of the Columbia employees working at headquarters there.“In fact, I am so concerned about the safety of our employees at the Sorel headquarters that we are taking the next 90 days to re-evaluate our location decision” he commented. “We were immediately receiving reports from employees that they were being hassled, harassed and threatened by individuals near our office. A few days ago, one of our employees had to run into traffic when a stranger outside our office followed her and threatened to kill her.”
Portland’s Mayor, Ted Wheeler has also expressed his interest in aiding Oregon’s homeless. “Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis unfolding on our streets, and demands a community-wide response,” said Wheeler. “I want to send the message that if you have ideas, or resources or expertise – and you want to put them to work addressing homelessness – government can be an effective partner.” Wheeler also added upon announcement of Boyle’s donation that Portland is in need of more shelter space for the homeless, and that residents need to be more open to aiding homeless in their own neighborhoods.