▶️ Arctic blast becomes a matter of survival for Bend’s homeless


The freezing cold is here, but not everyone has a place to go to get shelter from the storm.

Those living on the streets aren’t just trying to stay warm, they’re trying to survive in temperatures that were expected to fall to single digits Wednesday night.

“It’s something that I have never experienced before in my entire life,” said Carlos Rivas. “I am from L.A. and have never actually ever been homeless before. This is my first year. First three months.”

Right now, Rivas, who didn’t want to be shown on camera, is living in a tent off 2nd Street, and he is not alone.

“Every little necessity is of importance, like the little things matter, like gloves, propane, stuff like that, scarves,” Rivas said. “I have never really expected to live somewhere where stuff like that would really matter.”

Less than a mile away, an emergency shelter at First Presbyterian Church, open for those looking for warmth and a meal.

“This is not an easy place to be houseless,” said pastor First Presbyterian Church Morgan Schmidt. “I think that is a myth a lot of people buy into, that people come here cause there is help available here and the truth is experiencing houselessness is exhausting and it is dangerous.”

Guest John Steele says the van he lives in 12 miles out of town broke down due to the cold, forcing him to start living in available shelters.

“When you live in an environment where you are in the cold for 11 hours a day, it physically and mentally draws on the body and if you do it for long periods of time, you become numb to the simplest things,” said Steele.

Some guests like Marcus Wolf head straight to the overnight shelter on 3rd Street, once day-use shelters close.

That Shelter hosted 100 guests Tuesday night, a record, and the numbers could go up as the temperature goes down.

“It’s loud, you know a lot of drug activity, a lot of behavior, it is overwhelming and stressful,” said Wolf. “I looked at my wife and I told her I would rather be in my car. I would rather freeze and be comfortable than be somewhere warm where I am not comfortable.”

Comfort is beyond Carlos Rivas’ reach right now, but he appreciates all the help he’s received so far.

“It’s been rough,” Rivas said. “It’s been pretty horrible actually, but I’m surviving, and I am trying to take this as God’s will.”

First Presbyterian Church in Bend is also open Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., but may open Friday depending on the weather.

The Bend winter shelter on 275 NE 2nd Street is open 3 p.m. – 7 a.m.

You can find other cold weather shelters around Central Oregon here.

▶️ Cold weather shelters open as snow, bitterly cold temps arrive


Top Local Stories