The warming shelters at the Mountainview Fellowship Church in Redmond, the Lighthouse Navigation Shelter in Bend and the Franklin Avenue Shelter run by NeighborImpact in Bend are all full. It comes as a winter storm with temperatures in the teens down to the single digits is hitting Central Oregon.
“We have counted our capacity as 30, although we had 33 last night so we are more or less full and at the same time we’ll keep taking people in as long as we can do so safely,” said Andrew Hoeksema, the Redmond city director for Shepherd’s House.
Thankfully, Nicholas Rowden and his dog, Mr. Cracker, have a bed at the Redmond shelter.
“It’s a gift that people are opening up their church and allowing us to simply stay here at night time,” said Rowden.
He and Mr. Cracker have limited options without the church.
“I would probably be either loitering in Fred Meyer, possibly risking getting kicked out because the fact that it’s cold or being wrapped up in a blanket and sleeping bag somewhere where there’s not snow,” said Rowden.
The shelter is doing its best to make sure the unhoused have a warm place to sleep.
“We’re open every night November 15 to March 15, providing warm overnight shelter to our guests,” said Hoeksema.
The Lighthouse Shelter in Bend is also full.
“We’ve probably been at capacity the last three weeks,” said Shepherd’s House case services coordinator Ryan Smith.
That is even with more beds added recently.
“Currently, the fire marshal has given us 100-bed capacity and then we worked with them and they have allowed us to do 10 extra beds because of the weather,” said Smith.
The Lighthouse day room has also seen an increase in visitors according to Smith.
NeighborImpact’s Franklin Avenue Shelter has a waiting list with 180 people on it.
“Calls to the coordinated entry system increase in the fall time as the weather gets cold,” said NeighborImpact unhoused services manager, Todd Rundall.
Managers at all three shelters agree there are not enough shelter beds in Central Oregon to protect everyone from the cold.
Nicholas and Mr. Cracker will have to find somewhere else to stay warm throughout the day, but they will shelter in the church at night.