Portland, OR. These are the renderings for plans to turn the Wapato facility into a place called the Bybee Lakes Hope Center (BLHC). Owner, Jordan Schnitzer and the nonprofit Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers are hoping to transform the never-occupied, 155,000 square foot Wapato Corrections Facility into a trauma-informed, transitional housing facility to support Multnomah County community members experiencing homelessness. The Helping Hands organization has been successfully providing transitional housing since 2002. The organization has grown to include eleven facilities in four Oregon counties. Now it’s taking on Wapato.

Photos from Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers. Credit: Designer Stuart Emmons, Artist Craig Holmes.

Photos via Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers. Credit: Designer Stuart Emmons, Artist Craig Holmes.

The 15-year-old Wapato Jail – about 20 minutes northwest of Portland – has never been used. The $58 million facility was built as a prison in 2004, but never opened. On October 10th, Facility owner Jordan Schnitzer said the building would be demolished in the next few months unless political leaders could come up with a way to use it. In December, the Helping Hands plans for the facility were announced.

Helping Hands was founded by Alan Evans, who was homeless for over 25 years. Evans started Helping Hands to give other homeless people what he himself had needed: a helping hand to a sustainable life.

Jordan Schnitzer, (fourth from right) has said in the past he’s willing to invest $1 million to help Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers run a reentry program and emergency shelter out of the facility, but $2 million to $3 million is still needed to launch the operation.

For more information about the fundraising effort, here is a link to the program:


Here’s a video about the Helping Hands program in Clatsop County:

 From Helping Hands:

In addition to donations, there are many ways to help and here are a few:

Cook or Serve Meals – Prepare or serve dinner on a recurring schedule.

Attend our Annual Fundraiser – Mark your calendar for May 30, 2020 for the 6th annual Angels Among Us fundraiser dinner!

Advocate for Change – Help spread the word about Helping Hands and the ways our program changes lives.

Lead a Class – On-site classes are lead by volunteers. Vocational soft skills, financial wellness, healthy communication, and more!

Share your Skills – Serve on our Advisory Board or Board of Directors to help us make policy and programmatic changes that advance our Mission.

Donate Items – Personal care items like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toilet paper, and deodorant are always in high demand.

More information at Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers.