Let's talk about the myths, concerns about Project Turnkey

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Clackamas County has a severe shortage of affordable housing and is urgently creating new housing placements and affordable apartments. Clackamas Transitional Housing Community, partially funded by the Project Turnkey grant funds, would be a crucial part of the path forward for those trying to exit homelessness in Clackamas County. 
Clackamas County is considering converting a property at 9717 SE Sunnyside Road into the Clackamas Transitional Housing Community to provide safe and stable place for people getting their life back. It will have 24/7 staffing and security.
Some community members have questions about how Transitional Housing Community might impact our area, so we're going to answer those here. 

Myth: Homeless people made poor choices

Homelessness can happen to anyone. There are many contributing factors to homelessness, including domestic violence, experience in the child welfare system, health crises, and mental health conditions. Many workers live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have health insurance. Homelessness among our seniors is rising: many people don’t have sufficient income to save for retirement, and their housing stability is threatened as they age. In January, people on the county’s housing waitlist included 70% people with disabilities, 29% survivors of domestic violence, 16% older adults/seniors, 14% families with children, and 8% military veterans.

Read a common story from one of our county residents.

card that says 2100 people experience homelessness in January 2023Myth: This is going to bring more homeless people into the community.
These are already your neighbors. The residents of this transitional community are already on the waitlist of Clackamas' Coordinated Housing Access program, which requires clients to be current, local residents or have close ties to the local area. They might have kids who go to school nearby or a job in the neighborhood. There are over 2100 local people currently on Clackamas County’s coordinated housing access waitlist.

Myth: Transitional housing might bring drugs to the neighborhood. 
The majority of our homeless community don’t do drugs (the Point in Time homeless count showed that in 2021, 16% of people experiencing homelessness in Clackamas County had a substance use disorder), and we will have staff on hand to enforce that drugs will not be allowed in the building. Outside, we have a strong partnership with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. We also have a new street outreach team that has been successful in moving people off the street and giving them the treatment and help they may need. 
Along with creating more housing, ClackCo is addressing the drug crisis by investing in more substance use services, to make our neighborhoods better for all residents, businesses and children. 

Myth: This is a free handout
No one can leave homelessness without taking personal responsibility for their own hard work, along with housing and support. Participants will sign a participation agreement when they join the community that says they commit to rules and procedures, a code of conduct, chores, as well as regular appointments with permanent housing placement staff, their healthcare provider and counselor, and a substance-use treatment provider if applicable. They will participate in workshops that increase self-sufficiency, such as financial education and RentWell courses. Each person will have an individualized plan to achieve their goal of self-sufficiency. Participants must demonstrate progress on their goals.

Myth: This might bring crime to the neighborhood
In addition to a great partnership with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, this community will be well equipped with security measures, including exterior cameras and lighting. On-site staff will include 24/7 property management, behavioral staff and crisis staff. No camping will be allowed near the property. 

Myth: Nearby businesses might be negatively impacted
The transitional housing planned for Sunnyside Road will improve the current conditions for businesses. We are committed to ensuring that businesses can thrive and that the presence of transitional housing will benefit the neighborhood. 

County staff have reached out to every adjacent business, and will continue to hold meetings with them. We understand and share the concern that businesses in the area have been impacted by thefts and negative behavior. Participants will receive the support they need to stabilize their lives, contribute to society, and be employed. There will be security that will provide additional deterrence for negative behavior in the business area, and communication will always be open between the housing program and the business community. We are also talking with the business owners about utilizing their services, such as providing catering for the housing program. Other transitional housing programs in Oregon have found that income to neighboring businesses increased from housing program residents.

“When the county first wanted to build the Veterans Village next door to us, I was concerned it might hurt my business,” said Tom Martin, owner of Precision Truss. “The county took my concerns seriously and we worked together. Now the Veterans Village has been next door for four years. The folks living there are quiet and like any other neighbor. I’ve even hired some of them to work for me.” 

Myth: This is an emergency, nighttime shelter that anyone can enter
This program is not a night-to-night shelter where people are out on the street during the day. This is a place for current Clackamas County residents who were already living outdoors here, and it will make the community better for everyone by bringing them indoors and providing them the services they need to stabilize their lives. This is a 24/7 program that provides a private room with intensive management and staffing. Participants will be busy during the day attending workshops and applying to jobs and housing. Participants are selected from the Coordinated Housing Access system and screened before entry. Walk-ups will not be allowed.

Myth: This could increase trash and camping in the area
Camping outside will not be allowed. There will be 24/7 staff and security, who together along with the residents, will ensure that the inside, outside and grounds are maintained. The adjacent properties will be part of the Clackamas County Sherriff’s Office exclusion program to prohibit unwanted behavior and parking in their lots. Clackamas County has a new street outreach team that will work with anyone who may camp in the area to get them into housing. If a tent or RV is occupied, our outreach team works with those people to move into housing programs and relocate their vehicle. We have been successfully running this program for several months now.

Myth: This is too expensive and will affect my taxes
Converting existing motels into housing saves the county money. We can make up the area housing shortage now with existing motel rooms. This avoids the massive cost and time it would take to build new facilities, apartments, and the infrastructure to serve those locations. It is an efficient use of public dollars. Time means money, and lives. Clackamas County has the Project Turnkey opportunity at no current or future cost to the county for the next 10 years. Hard costs will be paid through a variety of grants including the grant administered by the Oregon Community Foundation. Ongoing staff, services and operating costs will be paid for with supportive housing services (SHS) funds. We have abundant SHS funds on hand, over $40-million for the coming year, and the county has made a public commitment to get these dollars out the door quickly. Turnkey accomplishes this.