BEND, OR -- Bend's homeless shelters have issued an emergency request for food and supplies, in preparation for the cold winter months. The Bethlehem Inn's Managing Director Chris Clouart says resources have been stretched thin all year, preventing them from storing donations from the traditionally slower summer months: "This year we didn't see a drop in our population and part of that is a reflection of the difficulty in finding housing in Central Oregon right now." He adds, "We have a lot of folks who are working, doing their best to get by. They've got the money they need to get into an apartment, they just can't find an apartment. Or, the apartments are outside their reach, even if they are working full-time."
At the Shepherd's House, Executive Director Curt Floski is seeing a similar trend. "We didn't see a drop in our numbers during the summer, we didn't see a drop in our food counts throughout the months. So, we're just not seeing a change, at least in our numbers, in terms of a reflection of a better economy." Floski says he expects demand to increase as those who have been sleeping outside seek shelter from the cold winter conditions.
Clouart says this year has been different. "This is not like any other year. I have a parking problem for the first time ever, in my history with the Bethlehem Inn. Because, we have people here that have cars. They have cars, they have jobs, they don't have the ability to find housing." The Bethlehem Inn averages 90 residents per night and has already had to turn people away in the past few weeks.
The Bethlehem Inn prepares about 68-thousand meals per year, Clouart says many of those are sack lunches offered to anyone who is in need, even those who aren't residents of the inn. The shelter is asking for donations of high protein foods like sliced cheese, lunch meat, and chicken. Floski, at the Shepherd's House, is asking for winter gear, like sleeping bags, tents and outerwear.