BEND, OR -- Central Oregon’s largest homeless shelter took a big step, in its effort to grow even bigger. The city of Bend approved the Bethlehem Inn’s plans, this week, for a new 18,600-square foot family residence and service hub.
Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says the project has been in the works for several years. "We were able to purchase the property a year ago, finally, and we’re looking to start moving in construction trailers, next week, so that we can begin the first phase, which is building a temporary office and kitchen and dining space on our pool area – our former recycling area. That’s coming up in the next month or so." She tells KBND News work at the N. Highway 97 facility shouldn’t interfere with residents or services. "We’re going to kind of condense our current campus down, but we’ll have the same number of single units and family units, which we’ve determined is not enough. And, we’ll continue doing that during the year of construction. When it’s all done, we’re going to then have a commercial kitchen and be able to serve twice as many families, so we’ll have 10 family units." The new service hub will also feature classrooms and space for programs that help transition people from homelessness to stability.
The multi-phase project is not yet fully funded. Wysling says, "We’re at about $4.9 million. We want $5.3 million to pay for it and the property 100%; so we’re on that final push for this phase of the capital campaign." She adds, "The need is growing, and so we continue to work with our community to work with us to find a way to help serve. And, we’re so appreciative of everyone’s community support." Click HERE to learn more about the project.