▶️ Bethlehem Inn to turn Redmond motel into homeless shelter thanks to $2.7M grant

Bethlehem Inn on Tuesday announced a $2.7 million state grant to turn a Redmond motel into a homeless shelter.

The property will serve emergency needs, initially providing 25 rooms of safe, stable shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

“Bethlehem Inn has been serving the region’s homeless population with emergency shelter services for over 20 years,” says Gwenn Wysling, Executive Director, Bethlehem Inn. “The pandemic has further complicated and prolonged economic challenges in a region, where even people who have jobs often struggle to find and keep affordable housing. We are very grateful to the City of Redmond and the community for trusting Bethlehem Inn to serve this vulnerable population.”

The grant comes from Project Turnkey funds allocated by the Legislature and managed by the Oregon Community Foundation.

Some key benefits of Project Turnkey-Redmond (operated by Bethlehem Inn) include:

  • An inclusive, trauma-informed environment to help more people move from crisis to stability.
  • Safe accommodation for up to 25 individuals initially and up to 90 individuals in the longer term.
  • Provision of meals, clothing, and essentials such as showers, laundry, hygiene items, etc.
  • Case management services and referrals to over 70 partner agencies.
  • Connections and access to available resources.
  • Employment and volunteer opportunities at the shelter.

“Additional shelter resources are needed to assist those here locally in crisis and seeking stability. The City of Redmond is proud to partner with Bethlehem Inn to establish a shelter here in Redmond,” said Redmond Mayor George Endicott. “The State of Oregon’s investment through Project Turnkey along with help from Oregon Community Foundation will make a lasting and positive impact in our community.”

Bethlehem Inn expects to be able to use the facility early as June, with plans to open a block of 25 rooms to the most vulnerable community members.

The new shelter is close by to Redmond’s downtown and several businesses.

Shelby Bishop, owner of the nearby Spokesman Suites, said she believes the shelter will be a benefit to the entire community.

“Having those services in our backyard doesn’t scare me by any means,” Bishop said. “If anything, I can imagine they’re going to do some significant improvements to the property.”

But other nearby businesses aren’t so happy about the location.

Brandy Hill, the supervisor of the County Nook Cafe, said the diner will miss business coming from the motel and they don’t agree with the location choice.

“We think it’s great they’re opening a homeless shelter and they do need more of those, but right in the center of the downtown?” Hill said. “Redmond doesn’t have a very big downtown so putting one of those right in the middle I feel is going to affect the area around here.”

When asked about the location choice, Wysling said it’s intentionally close to nearby services and resources.

Longer-term, Bethlehem Inn is working in collaboration with the City of Redmond to make improvements to the property that will yield emergency shelter services for up to 90 individuals, 365 days a year.

“Central Oregon has long needed additional shelter and housing to meet the need in our communities. The pandemic has only further highlighted this need,” said Anne George, Senior Donor Relations Officer, Oregon Community Foundation (Central Oregon Office). “OCF is delighted to help facilitate this community-led project, under the leadership of Bethlehem Inn, to support families and individuals with a safe place for our neighbors experiencing a housing or other crisis.”

The Oregon Legislature allocated $65 million for Project Turnkey for the purpose of acquiring motels/hotels for use as non-congregate shelter for people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness.

Two discrete funds were provided by the state: one totaling $30 million to be awarded in counties and tribal communities impacted by the 2020 wildfires; and one totaling $35 million for the remaining 28 counties in the state.

Oregon Community Foundation is administering both funds through an application and selection process, with guidance from an Advisory Committee of state, local, and community stakeholders. For more information, please visit Project Turnkey online.

Since Project Turnkey’s inception, OCF has been working with urgency in collaboration with a diverse statewide advisory committee to execute an equitable review process of all applicants.

The Project Turnkey Advisory Committee enthusiastically supported the funding for Bethlehem Inn because of their long, proven track record of serving vulnerable community members with compassion and expertise,” says Megan Loeb, OCF Program Officer, Housing.

OCF has been studying Oregons dual crises of homelessness and affordable housing for two years, beginning with research commissioned from ECONorthwest, Homelessness in Oregon” which provided statewide analysis of the disproportionately large homeless population in Oregon.

The first property was announced in Ashland, Oregon, in February 2021 and Project Turnkey has now reached a double-digit milestone — in just three months – with 10 grant awards deployed to date.

Project Turnkey is on pace to complete 18-20 projects by the June 2021 deadline set by the Oregon Legislature. For a complete list of awardees, please visit Project Turnkey online.

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