Sheriff’s Office, Homeless Leadership Coalition, NeighborImpact, others partner in effort
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A portion of of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office work-release center opened up to about 48 people on Tuesday as an emergency warming shelter during the winter.
“This was the right time, right place,” Sheriff Shane Nelson said. “I’m so thankful the Board of County Commissioners reached out to us, and we are happy to help our community in this much-needed way.”
The Homeless Leadership Coalition plans to keep the shelter open every night through mid-March. It will open at 6 p.m. followed by check-out at 10 a.m. the next morning.
“It has been a community effort to get this shelter up and running, and we are excited to be able to open tonight,” coalition Chair Colleen Thomas said.
With lows dipping into the 20s this week, the need by many for a warm, safe place to sleep is evident.
The DCSO Work Center, once used as a home to the Bethlehem Inn, does not meet the identified need of 100 shelter beds, but the HLC said it still makes a huge impact on sheltering those without anywhere else to go.
“This is what compassion should look like in every county across Oregon,” said Scott Cooper, executive director of NeighborImpact, a 21 Cares for Kids partner. “They say it can’t be done, they say that these different groups can’t work together, that one person ought to do it, but we did this.”
John Lodise, director of emergency services with Shepherd’s House Ministries, says the new shelter alo will hopefully bring awareness to the need for warming shelters in other areas.
“Just by working together as a system, to the extent that a shelter doesn’t accommodate a certain type of guest, there will be a greater awareness of other shelters and which guests they can take,” Lodise said.
In October, the HLC held a meeting with community partners and public officials to ask for help in identifying a warming shelter in Bend.
The sheriff’s office conducted a review of facility operations and, in partnership with county commissioners, identified a section of the Work Center building to meet this year’s needs for an emergency shelter location in Bend.
HLC said the funding provided to Oregon Housing Community Services by the Oregon Legislature helped them open the new shelter. NeighborImpact says it will provide the paid staff and volunteers will help provide meals and serve as hosts for evening shifts.