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One councilor's vote changed, stalling planned funding
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In recent weeks, a divided Redmond City Council has changed course when it comes to addressing the rising issue of homelessness, as three nonprofits sought part of the city's share of federal COVID-19 relief funding for new projects.
One of those nonprofits, Bend's Shepherd's House Ministries, has withdrawn its request for funding from the council, as they prepare to open a new shelter in Redmond.
Shepherd's House Director of Development Dave Notari said Monday he knows their plan to open a Redmond shelter is an uphill battle, but he stands behind the recent decision.
"We didn't want to stand in the middle of anything and cause any particular tensions with that," Notari said. "We really feel like our calling, what we're supposed to be doing is just helping people and loving people."
Notari says he wanted to avoid distracting from what he says is the organization's true purpose.
"So anything that was going to distract from that, we could go around that. We're just going to look for funding in different directions," Notari said.
Notari says he hopes Shepherd's House can ultimately partner with the city, even if it's not financially.
So how did councilors change course?
Back in early August, councilors narrowly approved by a 4-3 vote a motion to have staff prepare and bring back a proposal to allocate $2.93 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the city’s new public safety complex and three homeless-related projects.
But that narrow vote to proceed with considering the projects fell short at a special meeting on August 31, when Councilor Jay Patrick changed his initial vote, causing the proposed budget adjustment to fail 4-3.
"I think we as a council need to have more understanding," Patrick said. "And Shepherd's House, I've worked with them before, they're great people. But I want to see what their thoughts are long-term, short-term."
Patrick said he received dozens of emails, some even threatening, from concerned residents who opposed using the city's budget to fund homeless projects.
Despite the recent funding request withdrawal from Shepherd's House, Notari said he is still confident they can reach their goal of $3 million for the shelter.
"So we're confident that in time we'll have the needed funds to be able to open, and we want to do that soon, because we know the need in Redmond is huge," Notari said. "We know that people are out on the streets. They don't have food, they don't have clothes. It's going to be cold soon."
Notari also said the organization is looking into possible grants to help with funding, but nothing is set in stone.
Redmond councilors will also return to the issue Tuesday evening, with a public hearing on the use of American Rescue Plan funds, and several options staff has proposed to consider, depending on which projects are favored.