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Central Oregon

NE Bend church offers cold-weather shelter until Nov. 23 opening of winter facility

Tents, dedicated sleeping areas amid COVID-19; First Presbyterian thanks community for assist

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A northeast Bend church has stepped in to serve as a temporary cold-weather shelter for the homeless and those in need until an official winter shelter opens in another week, officials said.

First Presbyterian Church on Northeast Ninth Street began hosting the temporary facility on Saturday evening as an interim solution, the Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition said.

The city of Bend and Shepherd’s House Ministries recently announced that this winter’s warming shelter will be in the former Opportunity Center Foundation thrift store location off Northeast Second Street.

The facility is now set to open on Monday, Nov. 23, Shepherd’s House Development Director David Notari confirmed Sunday. “We’re going as fast as we can” to get the new shelter facility ready, he said.

Meanwhile, the shelter at First Presbyterian will operate from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis, with an approved capacity of 40 people, including staff and volunteers, the coalition said. Guests must follow a code of conduct, the organization said, and “masks will be absolutely mandatory.”

After an intake screening, each guest or couple is provided a dedicated sleeping area with a tent, “to hopefully further protect against the possibility of anyone getting sick.” The coalition’s Facebook post stated, adding, “Thank you to all that are making this happen! It takes a village.”

First Presbyterian, in its own Facebook post on Saturday, said, “We are amazed at how quickly our community got these tents up and transformed the church building into an emergency cold-weather shelter this afternoon!”

Church officials thanked those who brought donations of toiletries, warm clothing, blankets, cleaning supplies and more.

Notari said the church agreed to provide a temporary facility, as it has already gone through the city permit process for a temporary shelter during wildfire season, if needed.

He said a Zoom call involving about 30 people, including three city councilors and Rep. Cheri Helt, was scheduled, to discuss a recent state funding opportunity to purchase “turnkey” hotels for housing the homeless or wildfire evacuees.

The Nov. 23 target date for opening the new shelter prompted concern about the interim lack of a facility, especially in the wake of a homeless man’s death after a night in the bitter cold, and First Presbyterian offered to provide the temporary location, Notari said.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

Comments

14 Comments

  1. So tell me how many of those who are benefiting from charity are actually just lazy people who would rather beg on street corners than hold down a job? It used to be that layabouts would be run out of town by the local constabulary with stern instructions to not come back, or they would risk more serious consequences. Where are the good old days…? Sigh.

    1. amazing how y’all pine for cruelty inflicted on others – lots of it back in the “good old days”

      – starting to look like the future has no place for you…. what a shame. Sigh.

    2. I have no idea how many of the people are in the situation that they are because
      they are lazy. Most of the time I have no sympathy for those that made their choice,
      but I do look at it differently when the weather gets cold and the snow is flying,
      because it becomes a matter of life or death for those living outdoors…
      Even if the person is an alcoholic or druggie, they don’t deserve to freeze to death…

  2. I am grateful they are doing this. Sad it had to be because someone lost their life. I still don’t understand who wheeled the Veteran out the door after having his legs amputated knowing he was homeless and said…good luck!??? Was it St. Charles or a post hospital rehabilitation center?

    1. No one! He wheeled himself out and declined multiple offers of aid from the government, nonprofit, faith-based groups, along with offers from his friends. He made a choice and sadly his choice resulted in his life being cut short.

      Sadly, this is the greatest challenge when it comes to mental health treatment, for the most part, folks want to help but if someone insists on drinking, drugging, and shouting obscenities at other people at a shelter, all you can do is incarcerate that person. And once they get out, it’s the same circle.

      No one said good luck; we asked him to please allow us to help. Sadly, he figured he would make it through the evening.

      1. Thank you for the info. I really didn’t understand. I get it. We have a family member who has a severe mental illness and wouldn’t take help. He has been missing for 4 years now.

        1. That has to be a helpless feeling, knowing that the person has mental issues,
          and they have been missing for four years. It would be really frustrating not
          being able to help them because they don’t want help from anyone…

      2. From what I’ve heard, that seems to be a fairly common scenario with some of the homeless.
        The old saying is still true; you can’t help those that don’t want to be helped…

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