COVID-19: Bend emergency winter warming shelter to stay open

NeighborImpact on Monday announced the Bend Winter Warming Shelter will remain open on a day-to-day basis.

A preliminary agreement has been reached between NeighborImpact and Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and county administrators to extend the homeless shelter’s season.

The shelter is located in Deschutes County’s Adult Community Justice Building, also known as the “work center,” on NW Britta Street in Bend. It opened in December.

Sheriff’s office work crews were only using half the building, so Deschutes County offered it in response to requests for shelter space.

Any agreement is subject to final approval of the Deschutes County board of Commissioners.  Funding for the extension will be provided through Oregon Housing and Community Services and other partners.

The winter warming shelter had been scheduled to close on March 16, but concerns about managing the spread of the new coronavirus and extremely cold weather this week prompted a cooperative scramble to find a way to extend the closure date.

The shelter will be supplemented with motel vouchering and distribution of tents, sleeping bags, tarps and propane heaters.

The Bend Winter Warming shelter was originally conceived and organized by the Homeless Leadership Coalition, a group of advocates for intervening in and preventing homelessness in Central Oregon. NeighborImpact agreed to provide the operational oversight of the facility when it opened in December.  Since opening, 240 unique individuals have accessed the shelter. 

The January 2019 Point in Time count of homeless individuals in living in Central Oregon found 880 homeless people living in the region.  Numbers for 2020 have not yet been released.

The Bend warming shelter is part of a regional tri-county network of shelters coordinated through the Homeless Leadership Coalition’s winter shelter committee.  Local homeless advocates continue to coordinate response to needs of the homeless in this public health emergency.

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