Paraplegic, caregiver say 'we have nowhere to go here'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The operators of Bend's Franklin Avenue homeless shelter explained their policy for guests Friday after a paraplegic and his caregiver-girlfriend claimed they were asked to leave after being accused -- wrongfully, they claim -- of smoking in their room.
Daniel Hibbitts is a paraplegic who was recently asked to leave the Franklin Avenue shelter, along with his caregiver and girlfriend, Teresa Mick.
Hibbitts declined to be on camera, so Mick spoke Friday on his behalf.
"Right now, I'm not sure where we're going, but we have nowhere to go here. We've had to call his brother, and they're all the way over the mountain. So we'll just have to see if they can get over here to come and pick us up.
Mick said they had been living at the Rainbow Motel since last May, after Hibbitts was seriously injured.
"We we're hiking out at the Crooked River Gorge, and he fell and broke his back. Basically broke everything," she said. "I mean, I didn't think he was going to live. And it's left him paraplegic, and he's never going to walk again because of it."
The Rainbow Motel was purchased by the City of Bend for more than $2.9 million last July. It was part of a two-property purchase by the city to create more transitional housing for homeless people.
NeighborImpact oversees the intake of residents. Its a nonprofit who among other roles offers social services to help homeless people acquire transitional housing, food, and pay their bills.
But according to Mick, NeighborImpact evicted them from the shelter over something they did not do.
"They claim that we were smoking in our room. And nobody was smoking in our room," she said. "When they came and knocked on our door and said, 'Hey, the hallway smells like cigarette smoke.' 'No. Nobody's smoking in here, nobody's been smoking in here.'"
Those in charge of decisions at the shelter said they have have a three-strike policy.
Housing Stabilization Director Molly Heiss explained what causes NeighborImpact to ask someone to leave.
"When folks join us here, we have a guest agreement that they review and sign, and also a good neighbor agreement," she said. "There's things they review and sign. And if there's things on that guest agreement they violate -- so rules, there are some basic rules in place, and those are just for the safety and comfort of the guests' stuff, and also preservation of the shelter facility."
Heiss said the decision to ask someone to leave is not an easy one.
"So our shelter team provides those verbal and written agreements to the guests," she said. "There is a record in their file -- we keep good track. We also have a services team that's involved with each and every guest here at the shelter. So it's not a group decision, it's a decision that's made objectively, based on that guest agreement."
Heiss said if they do ask someone to leave the shelter, they connect them with other services.
"What we do with every shelter guest is we offer other shelter listings, direct connection to those shelters, connection to the coordinated entry system for housing options," she said. "The supportive service team also works really hard to identify and help guests identify other alternates, so people aren't just thrown out in the cold."