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Kenton Shelter Running on $300K a Year ‘No Place to Live’

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

 

Area business owners are concerned an innovative program in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood is not delivering the services it was contracted to do, while endangering the people it is intended to serve.

Emmanuel Community Services (ECS) runs a reunification shelter at the site of the Comfy Inn, at 8355 N. Interstate, where children coming out of the foster care system can live with their mothers in a temporary, supervised shelter for up to 30 days.  

The Comfy Inn in Kenton. Photo: Byron Beck

At least, that’s the intention. It’s a good one, according to Kenton business owners unconvinced of the program’s effectiveness, and the process through which ECS acquired the contract. 

“Government funds are being used, and they’re not providing services,” said Jessie Burke, owner of Posies Bakery and Cafe, and a member of the Kenton Business Association. “If you really cared about foster kids, this is no place to live,” Burke said. 

The Emmanuel Shelter, an interim housing project for which ECS first won a no-bid contract in August 2013 worth $280,000, is run through the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) and state Department of Human Services (DHS). 

But neighbors report seeing children unsupervised, parents in the nearby bars, and complain of the shelter’s proximity to “Dancin’ Bare,” an exotic dance club. 

How ECS won the bid 

According to DHS spokeswoman Andrea Cantu-Schomus, there was no request for proposals (RFP) from other non-profits because the Emmanuel Shelter is an “innovative pilot project.” Although it is an “innovative pilot project,” Cantu-Schomus said the Emmanuel Shelter is not the state’s first reunification program.

Emmanuel Community Services has been a 501(c)3 designated organization since 1995, and has extensive experience with gang outreach programs.  The organization sprung from the Emmanuel Temple Church in North Portland, founded in 1984.

The contract with MESD is ECS’ first work with the foster care system, according to IRS 990 tax forms filed by the organization for the years 2010-2012. 

At the time of the first contract, the state was billed $47.50 nightly for each of the shelter’s 15 rooms, after six nights billed at $60.00. A June 2014 amendment to the contract upped the nightly compensation to $60.00 per unit, and granted priority to unhoused men and women with one or more children. A further amendment in July 2014 increased the contract limit to $303,000 annually. 

Pestilence, Green Space, and Undue Influence 

Safety issues have come to the forefront among business owners and neighbors in Kenton, outlined in a Feb. 19 letter from the Kenton Business Association (KBA) to local electeds including North Portland’s Rep. Tina Kotek and Sen. Chip Shields.

Concerns in the letter, which stumbled on careful language to mind NIMBYism, included run-down conditions, a spike in crime, a garish chain-link fence, poor choice in location, extended stays by clients, “pestilence,” and the role of Clayborn Collins, the controversial ECS President and CEO with a history of legal and ethical misdeeds.  

First on the list of concerns about the shelter, the letter cited “undue influence.” 

Emmanuel Shelter 

The motel at 8355 N. Interstate is owned by Natubhai and Kusumben Patel, bought in April 1993 for $250,000, according to Portland Maps. 

Bhivan Patel, the couple’s son, manages the property. He said in the last five years, he fielded offers to buy or lease the building, worth $441,330 by 2014, from several bidders. 

“ECS, using only state funds, paid nearly double the market rate to lease the property, eliminating any serious negotiations already in progress,” the KBA wrote. 

Compared to the property’s $441,330 value, one year, or 365 nights, at $47.50 per night coupled with 365 nights at $60.00, for 15 units, is $588,562.50. 

Patel paid no property tax on the building last year, still denoted as a motel according to Portland Maps. Patel would not say how much the state or ECS is paying him for the annual lease. 

No audit yet 

According to the original contract between MESD and Emmanuel Community Services, a Performance and Fiscal Audit to determine whether the terms, conditions, obligations and agreements of the contract are being met, is to be performed at MESD's discretion.

MESD spokesperson Laura Conroy said the district has never conducted an audit into the program. ECS is also subject to evaluation by DHS. It is unclear whether the DHS has conducted an evaluation. 

Program Manager for the ECS transitional housing, Heather Higginson, said 45 of the 79 families who lived in the building since August 2013 have moved into permanent housing. 

“I can confirm we have been really successful, and that the Kenton Business Association's attacks have been financially motivated,” Higginson said. 

It remains unclear whether an RFP will be issued before the current contract between ECS and MESD hits its June 30, 2015 end date. 

 

Related Slideshow: Emmanuel Community Services Reunification Shelter

An innovative program in North Portland’s Kenton neighborhood has drawn scrutiny from neighbors for not delivering the services it was contracted to do, while endangering the people it is intended to serve

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

Emmanuel Community Services (ECS) runs a reunification shelter at the site of the Comfy Inn, at 8355 N. Interstate, where children coming out of the foster care system can live with their mothers in a temporary, supervised shelter for up to 30 days.  

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

Kenton business owners are unconvinced of the program’s effectiveness, and the process through which ECS acquired the contract. 

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

Safety issues have come to the forefront among business owners and neighbors in Kenton, outlined in a Feb. 19 letter from the Kenton Business Association (KBA) to local electeds including North Portland’s Rep. Tina Kotek and Sen. Chip Shields.

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

MESD spokesperson Laura Conroy said the district has never conducted an audit into the program. ECS is also subject to evaluation by DHS. It is unclear whether the DHS has conducted an evaluation. 

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

The Emmanuel Shelter, an interim housing project for which ECS first won a no-bid contract in August 2013 worth $280,000, is run through the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) and state Department of Human Services (DHS). 

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

Neighbors report seeing children unsupervised, parents in the nearby bars, and complain of the shelter’s proximity to “Dancin’ Bare,” an exotic dance club. 

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

According to DHS spokeswoman Andrea Cantu-Schomus, there was no request for proposals (RFP) from other non-profits because the Emmanuel Shelter is an “innovative pilot project.” Although it is an “innovative pilot project,” Cantu-Schomus said the Emmanuel Shelter is not the state’s first reunification program.

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

Emmanuel Community Services has been a 501(c)3 designated organization since 1995, and has extensive experience with gang outreach programs.  The organization sprung from the Emmanuel Temple Church in North Portland, founded in 1984.

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

Compared to the property’s $441,330 value, one year, or 365 nights, at $47.50 per night coupled with 365 nights at $60.00, for 15 units, is $588,562.50. 

Prev Next

The Emmanuel Shelter

The landlord, Bhavin Patel, paid no property tax on the building last year, still denoted as a motel according to Portland Maps. Patel would not say how much the state or ECS is paying him for the annual lease. 

 
 

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