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Local News

New Face of Homeless in Central Oregon


In Bend, the face of the homeless has changed dramatically in recent years. That "face" looks more like you and I and your neighbor.
 
Chris Clouart works at the Bethlehem Inn in Bend.  It's the largest homeless shelter in the region. 
 
"and i've been doing this job for 5 years now - its changed dramatically since i've been here-  back in 2007 when i started the area was in the boom time- things were still going great - and we had a certain type of person who would come to the shelter...and these were people who were really struggling on a constant basis...we referred to them as the chronic homeless and that has changed - now i'm seeing the faces of people who've been  essentially the middle class - for a lot of their lives.
 
Clouart also points out that about one third of the people living at the Inn have jobs - they just don't pay enough to cover the rent.
 
 
bite "the economic crash of 2008 has allowed people to experience levels of insecurity in their income and lifestyles that has not been seen for generations- and that is what we are seeing at the bethlehem inn - and we are helping people from all walks of life trying to make it through and some to a better life at some point in the future.  
 
Clouart says in the past they mostly helped people who were considered continually homeless and had major challenges to becoming independent.  They helped those people learn the life skills and needed to start breaking the cycle of poverty and turn their lives around.  But many of the people at the shelter now don't fit that profile.  He fears the trend will continue in this area.
 
"there aren't enough jobs- there aren't enough well paying jobs - about a third of the residents at the bethleham inn are working currently- its just not enough income for them to pay the rent - the rents are going up in the community --- this is a difficult time to be a low income person in america - what we find here is we do our best to help people have the resouces to move forward- it just takes a lot of resources to do that. "
 
Clouart was a guest Tuesday morning on 1110 KBND's Your Town.  The entire interview can be heard on the podcast located on the KBND website. 

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