Allegations of Illegal Activity Surface at Kenton Women’s Village

An update to this has been posted.

On the evening of November 10th, the Kenton Neighborhood Association (KNA) received an email reporting illegal activity occurring at the Kenton Women’s Village (KWV) even while employees of Catholic Charities, who manages the KWV, were onsite. The Portland Police Bureau was included in the email sent to the KNA.

The account contains a written report along with photos and a video and comes from a community houselessness advocate that has associations to the organizing partners of the KWV. As well, this individual has previously participated directly with the KNA on matters of the KWV.

Along with claims of criminal behavior, the report also points out potential breaches of the Partnership Agreement signed between the KNA and the organizing partners of the KWV, which partially includes the Joint Office of Homeless Services, Catholic Charities and the City of Portland Office of Management and Finance.

Furthermore, beyond the firsthand details from the community houselessness advocate, secondhand information from a village resident claims that Catholic Charities has dismissed and/or ignored reports of criminal behavior at the KWV.

The KNA indirectly obtained a response from Catholic Charities on the matter from Executive Director Deacon Richard Birkel.

“Catholic Charities is committed to assuring the wellbeing of villagers and to maintaining a healthy environment for those who reside there,” states Deacon Birkel. “We have gone above and beyond in many areas of management and security, including securing and paying for overnight security that is not reimbursed by our current limited contract.”

While Deacon Birkel’s assurances are appreciated, these allegations are extremely disconcerting and raise significant questions about Catholic Charities ability to properly manage the KWV.

After considerable delay, the inaugural meeting of the KWV Steering Committee, which the KNA is a non-voting member of, is scheduled for this week. We hope to have more information to share once that meeting occurs.

Beyond that, we’ll be working with the KNA’s Board of Directors and the KNA’s Committee on the KWV, along with the general membership of the KNA, to determine the KNA’s next steps in ensuring the health and safety of all neighbors.

Tyler Roppe
Chair, Kenton Neighborhood Association

Susan Oliver
Board Member, Kenton Neighborhood Association
Chair, Kenton Neighborhood Association Committee on the Kenton Women’s Village