Corvallis Homeless Protest Seasonal Shelter Closing

April 2 – Marge Pettitt is one of a dozen homeless women who have no place to go after the First United Methodist women’s shelter closed for the season on April 1st. She has set up her tent on the sidewalk outside the courthouse, because, as she says, “Where can we be?” As of press time, she had been given 24 hours’ notice to vacate the spot before being removed by police.

Homeless woman protests seasonal shelter closing
Homeless protest seasonal shelter closing

The seasonal closing of the women’s shelter precipitated a rally by homeless Corvallisites Tuesday, between Central Park and the courthouse. About 20 people met in front of the courthouse. Pettitt says, of many of the women who were at the shelter, “We as women want to feel safe because we have been victimized,” by domestic violence.

The Community Outreach, Inc. programs offer beds to veterans and families, but not single men. Other facilities offer shelters only during the winter months. Leo Steelman says, of the Corvallis situation in general, “They kick you out and expect you to walk around the streets all night long.”

BJ, who wanted to be identified only by his first name, says “The majority of the homeless out here don’t have issues with each other, or with much of the public except the police. [The police] are the ones that are causing the issues, in my opinion.” He continues, “There’s a select few that make a bad name for the rest, and we try to clear that up but we don’t want to invade anyone’s space.” He says the best way the public can help is to donate to First Christian Church, which participates in the Stone Soup meal program.

Doyle Franklin, AKA Pops, says of homeless young people, “These children are going to always be in trouble until the community realizes that people are people. If you want them to be better, spend some time with them.” Pettitt, who’s lead art projects with homeless youth, says “It’s hard to watch the younger generation. They’re angry about things in general, the government and so on, and then you add in what they have to deal with being homeless.”

It’s unclear what the next step will be for Pettitt. What is clear is that the problems facing Corvallis’ homeless population are as big as ever.

By Bethany Carlson

Be Sociable, Share!

1 thought on “Corvallis Homeless Protest Seasonal Shelter Closing

  1. There are so many more mens shelters then woman’s shelters, clearly sending the message that men still run everything and put themselves first. It is just wrong, at the very least there should be an equal number of mens and womans shelters. There should also be more shelters for single parents and their children. Just from my own experiences this inequality in the Willamette Valley has gone on for many years. I lived in a woman’s shelter in Albany with my son, a toddler, in 1995. This was the only bed available for my son and I from Portland to Eugene that winter. The shelter smelt so strongly of disinfectant I could barely breath and wore a handkerchief over my face whenever I was in the house. Even though there was snow on the ground, we were kicked out of the shelter every morning by 7:30am and not let back in until after dinner and dark, while many other shelters for men stayed open 24/7. The woman were expected to job hunt everyday and give proof of such each week but were not offered any assistance with childcare, nor were they exempt from job search because of a disability or illness. You were not allowed in the kitchen, I had to wash and fill my baby bottles using a cup in the bathroom sink. They fed us a minimal cold breakfast in the mornings (stale bagels or cold cereal from gleaners) while the Hosts husband and children ate hot meals. We were given a list of hot-meal sites in Albany and Corvallis where we were suppose to go for dinners 5 nights a week, while the mens and mixed shelters fed 3 meals a day. I was so scared I could never bring myself to enter any of the meal sites. This Albany woman’s shelter did not offer help with work search, clothing, laundry or housing, as most other shelters do, the only thing they offered was a warm bed, an occasional shower which I had to take with my toddler in the bathroom with me and a cold breakfast. They had strict rules, children were not allowed to be awake past 7pm or the “host” was beating on your door and immediately open it and yell at you to get them back to sleep immediately or you would be kicked out for violating the rules. God forbid you were caught with the child out of bed. There were no locks on your room doors and the Host went through your personal property while you were gone during the day and even removed pages from my personal journal/diary. When confronted she claimed she though the pages were for her given they mentioned the work search I was required to report each week. Not only was the host a thief but she had no compassion what-so-ever for a family in turmoil living in a strange place. Her husband seemed nice enough but she barely allowed him to speak to us at breakfast and their family had private living quarters so we only saw them occasionally at breakfast. I hope that the horrible experience we had was due to our awful Host and not how all shelters treat homeless woman and children but that was my experience. The main reason I left, after 5 days, was because I could not look for work and housing while I had my child with me and we spent most of the days trying to find a warm place to be out of the snow. I did file a written complaint after leaving the shelter but they did not believe the host was so horrible to us, though they did say they would check into the meals because the Host family was suppose to eat the same food we did, not give us garbage. Overall though they seemed to think we should have been more grateful. In my experience, woman are discriminated against where homeless shelters and assistance are concerned in the Willamette Valley, and it is wrong. No child should be turned away from a shelter while capable adults have a warm, dry, safe place to sleep/live. No woman should be homeless while a capable man takes a shelter bed. This may seem discriminatory to you but woman are at a higher risk of rape, robbery and other crimes against them, while living homeless then men are and shouldn’t the weakest among us be protected more?

Comments are closed.