BEND, OR -- Bend's homeless problem is not improving, and the need exceeds the supply of beds at area shelters. The Bethlehem Inn is looking to expand its current facility, in an effort to meet the growing need.
Bethlehem Inn Executive Director Gwen Wysling tells KBND News the nonprofit has already raised $4 million. "We are looking to, by March, raise a total that we need, which is $4.5 million. And, that's going to help us rebuild and expand services for our families, add a a commercial kitchen, dining area and really the services that are needed for those who come to the Bethlehem Inn." The Bethlehem Inn bought its current property off Third Street from Deschutes County, earlier this year.
She says families struggling with homelessness have very few options in our region. "The need continues to grow. The housing market is just so tight, and we only have five family units; those are the only five emergency shelters for families in all of Central Oregon. So, by increasing that capacity, we're going to be able to serve 60-75 more families a year." She adds, "Our family units are on one side of the property and our kitchen is on the other - it's not really a 'kitchen.' But, they get their food and bring it back to their dining area in their building. So, the family units are going to be in the same building where the kitchen and dining room is, so there's a real nice flow for the services; and a kitchen will serve both the singles and families in one location."
Construction is slated to start as soon as the final funds are raised, with completion expected by the fall of 2017.