By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
The Bend City Council will go back to the drawing board after canceling plans to turn a local motel into a homeless shelter.
The proposal was part of Project Turnkey, a state funded-grant program to help communities address homeless situation.
After the termination of a purchase and sale agreement with Old Mill and Suites, the council directed staff to begin pursuing and evaluating other hotel properties that meet the criteria for Project Turnkey.
“The city’s commitment to establishing more shelter beds in the city of Bend has not changed,” said Economic Development Director for the City of Bend, Carolyn Eagan. “All seven councilors support that, the city manager and the executive management team of the city support that endeavor. So, we are not taking our foot off the gas.”
The city’s goal is to enter into a new agreement by the end of April, whether it is at the Old Mill and Suites or a different location.
“We are absolutely committed to finding a property for the Turnkey grant funds and we will pursue that to the last day it is available to us.”
The deadline to apply for Turnkey funding is June 30.
Riese Sullivan’s job with COVO is to get veterans off the street and into houses.
“Any way to get more individuals off the street and into somewhere stable, where they can continue to recover and have a spot they can call their own,” said Sullivan. “Any base landing point that can have is going to be an assistance or help to them.”
Sullivan said new homeless faces and new homeless camps are popping up every day.
“This isn’t a problem that is going away soon,” he added. “This is the time to come together as a community.”
In the meantime, the City of Bend will move quickly to find the right property for a temporary homeless shelter.
“We want to make sure the property we do acquire for this purpose first and foremost, meets the needs of the humans in the community that will want to use it for housing and also meets our obligations to our taxpayers of the City of Bend that we buy a good property,” said Eagan.