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Bethlehem Inn and Shepherd’s House Ministries’ shelters in Bend are ready for the winter season

(Updated: Adding video and comments from Bethlehem Inn and Shepherd's House Ministries)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Bethlehem Inn and Shepherd's House Ministries in Bend report they are taking in homeless people at a fairly constant rate ahead of the winter season.

Bethlehem Inn in Bend has 10 units for families and can house 112 men and women at one time. As of Tuesday, there is space for four men and a dozen women, and will take in two people at a time.

Executive Director Gwenn Wysling noted that each day is different.

"You know, it is a day to day challenge," she said Tuesday. "Fortunately, because of the case management and helping people move forward there, there's a constant flow, both people exiting as well as incoming.”

According to managers, Bethlehem Inn numbers generally stay consistent, no matter the weather.

"The challenge is, you know, how do we access what's out there and what's available for folks," Wysling said. "Folks that are choosing to come to the shelter are coming because they want a safe, secure place to be. And there are others that may not want to fall under somebody else's rules."

At another local shelter for the homeless, construction at the Shepherd's House's Lighthouse Navigation Center has reduced the number of beds to 50, for now.

The staff has had to turn away people in the past couple of months, and it's a problem they've faced in the past. However, they have the most amount of people in their day-use area. If the overnight shelter space is at maximum capacity, some nights they'll allow people to sleep in that area.

Evan Hendrix, director of navigation services, wishes for more space around the community for the homeless, even with numerous such efforts underway or complete in recent years.

"Our question to the greater community and even to the state is, what does it look like to continue to create safe spaces in some really creative ways, to be able to ensure that everybody has a place to be inside, if they so choose?” Hendrix said.

Shepherd's House also manages space for 120 at the former Rainbow Motel, which is consistently at capacity. Even when beds are available, staff members realize there are those who choose to stay out in the cold.

"When people experience significant trauma in their lives, it causes them to actually react the opposite, right? In that they don't trust people," Hendrix said. "They don't have a willingness to want to share space, and so the fact that they would rather choose a tent, especially on a cold night -- at least they know who's in the tent, and they feel like somewhat of control over that space in that environment."

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Dylan Anderman

Dylan Anderman is sports reporter for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Dylan here.


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