PRINEVILLE, OR -- A Crook County nonprofit hopes to open a homeless shelter on the outskirts of Prineville, but it's facing some opposition from neighbors. The city's previous men's shelter was forced to close to make room for construction of the new jail.
Former Crook County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren now works with the Crook County Public Safety Coordinating Council, which is helping in the effort. He tells KBND News, "The same group that runs the women’s shelter and did run the men’s shelter when it was open is the Redemption House Ministries. We’re working to locate this property on the Madras Highway, and it’s very close to town, and it’s in a commercial zone. I’ve found a modular unit that would be placed on that property and it would have showers and bathrooms enough to accommodate 16 men." The previous shelter could serve about 12 men.
Fahlgren says about half a dozen people testified against the project at this week's Planning Committee meeting. He believes many don’t understand the need in Prineville and don't realize the men would be required to follow a strict program. "There’s a curfew; the men would go into the facility, they would have a curfew where if they leave they don’t get to come back – a lot of rules around them. And it’s a safe place for them to get physically clean, with showers and food available for them; and for us to help them with other systems that we already are paying for, with all different community services [and] mental health programs. It helps them also possibly get a job," he says, "By being able to have our mental health program working with them, our alcohol and drug teams, to have just Mid-Oregon Personnel there, to be able to help them with job placement. Transportation is available in this location. There’s a lot of things or assets that we already pay for that we need to utilize that when we do, it makes a difference and it’s safety for the community." According to Fahlgren without a shelter, many of those struggling with homelessness, and those released from the jail without a place to stay, have nowhere to go. He says this facility provides transitional housing, not a long-term residence for those men.
Despite the opposition, the Planning Committee gave tentative approval to a conditional use permit and Fahlgren expects they will give final approval August first. Fahlgren is hopeful the shelter will be open by October, before cold weather returns.