City of Bend nixes motel purchase; will look for alternative shelter location

The City of Bend will abandon plans to buy the Old Mill & Suites and will look for an alternative location for a temporary homeless shelter.

City Councilors on Wednesday night directed staff to terminate the agreement after a feasibility study and inspection determined the building would not be suitable for the project.

In early February, councilors announced plans to buy the motel on SE Third Street and transition it to a shelter as part of  Project Turnkey, a State-funded grant program.

“We continue to be committed to finding a property that could be eligible for Project Turnkey funding,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Gena Goodman-Campbell. “We need to take advantage of funding opportunities like this to provide much-needed shelter options for our unhoused community members.”

The OCF’s “Project Turnkey” was established by the Legislature with the purpose of turning motels/hotels into “non-congregate shelter for people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness.”

There’s $35 million available to 28 Oregon counties for such use.

The shelter would be similar to the Bethlehem Inn, which started as a temporary winter homeless shelter at local churches before moving into an old hotel property acquired by Deschutes County in 2007.

According to the Central Oregon Homeless Leadership Coalition’s point-in-time count in January, nearly 1,000 people were experiencing homelessness – a 10% jump from 2019.

For more information on Project Turnkey and the City’s efforts to address homelessness in Bend, visit www.bendoregon.gov/homelessness.

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