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C.O. homeless, shelter gear up for cold weather


With a freeze warning in effect over much of Central Oregon the night couple of nights, the impact felt on the homeless grows as well. The Bethlehem Inn emergency shelter in Bend has run out of sleeping bags.

The shelter needs tents, warm clothes and sleeping bags. Typically, they see nearly about 100 people a night in the winter. But it’s technically still summer, and there’s already a demand.

For people with homes, fall is a time for harvest, celebration and bundling up by the fire. For homeless people in Central Oregon, it’s a scary time, because freezing nights are back.

“As the weather begins to get colder, the need for shelter becomes more serious,” Bethlehem Inn Managing Director Chris Clouart said Monday.

Not everyone is willing to take shelter at places like the Bethlehem Inn. But with colder weather, they are left without many options.

“People, particularly the ones who are in situations that are unstable, even including sleeping in their cars — it becomes untenable,” Clouart said.

Bethlehem Inn has been operating on an emergency need early this year.

“We have started to institute our emergency intakes again,” Clouart said. “This is something we usually suspend during the summertime.”

Many Bethlehem Inn residents say they hope these cooler nighttime temperatures get more people into the shelter, so they can get help, too.

Resident Kate Bennett said she lived under the footbridge in Drake Park for about three months, and because of the Bethlehem Inn, she now has a home while she saves up money to get her own place.

“Man, without this place, I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be doing, and I’m very grateful for all their help,” Bennett said.

Bennett said she hopes the community will hear the inn is in need, and help like people have done in the past.

“All the generosity from the community blows my mind,” Bennett said.

Bennett encourages people to stay at the inn, too. It offers a safe space to all, and much-needed warmth.

“If you’re going to be clean and sober, and follow the rules, there’s nice warm beds, and warm clothes and warm meals,” she said.

The inn wants to help everyone who comes looking for it. If someone in need wants to do a full intake, or stay in a common room in an emergency, the inn will help. If they just need a sleeping bag to keep them warm at night, the inn wants to help with that, too.

When it gets cold enough, the Bend City Council will activate a cold weather emergency, and at that point, the inn can put people into the kitchen, for safety. That level is below 25 degrees at night, for a consistent period.

Usuall,y six people sleep per room at the Bethlehem Inn. There are rooms with two beds, for veterans.

For more information about the inn, and an address you can visit their website:

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