REDMOND, OR -- When temperatures dip below freezing, there are not a lot of options for Central Oregonians without permanent housing. Sarah Kelly is a homeless advocate who meets with clients at Deschutes Public Libraries across the county. She says this time of year leaves many without a place to stay. "I have folks that are sleeping in their cars who were coming to me earlier this week, saying 'where do I go, I can't sleep in my car Wednesday night, it's going to be 10 degrees.'" She says those in Bend can find help: "The Bethlehem Inn has emergency shelter- they do offer one night, so that's the direction I send people. It'd be great if we had additional resources for that, it's pretty limited. And, they're here in Bend. So, if I'm talking to someone in Redmond or Sisters, that's not terribly helpful."
In Redmond, the Shepherd's House
is now training community volunteers to staff the cold weather shelter at Highland Baptist Church. HBC Deacon Doug Taylor says those who come to the church have nowhere else to turn. "People are staying in their cars. Some of them have tents that are in the brush way out on the edge of town. And, if they run out of fuel, they just get so cold they can't stand it."
HBC's cold weather shelter just re-opened this month. "We had to shut the center down last year in January because our church security decided we were probably putting people at risk of the unknowns coming into our shelter from off the street- People that might be high on drugs or something, because we weren't trained properly." Taylor says, "Since then, we've got this new bunch with us and we feel a lot safer now and we're not putting people at risk."
Each night, Four trained volunteers provide supervision, security and resource connections for those who come to HBC for a warm place to sleep. The cold weather shelter is open from October until March, any night when temperatures are predicted to hit 25 degrees or colder, or when freezing rain or snow accumulation is expected.
To find out if the Redmond cold weather shelter is open or to get volunteer information, call 541-788-8098.