Downtown Homeless Shelter Plan Scuttled

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CHF 4th streetScuttling plans to build a 90-bed downtown emergency homeless shelter, Corvallis Housing First (CHF) Director Gregg Olson states his organization will shift its focus for the site to permanent supportive housing. Saying that no timeline is currently in place, Olson stated the current emergency shelter would operate in cold weather months until the new apartment-style complex can be built.

Instead of the current focus on transient homeless, Olson offers the Julian and Partners Place as examples of what his organization will be shifting to, saying, “We will be working with our clients only, offering emergency housing, not emergency shelter to just whoever comes through—we will not be a vagrant shelter.” Olson goes on to say that his board of directors believes the new focus is more in line with the housing first model, generally.

Olson caveats that some emergency housing is envisioned for the new facility, but it will be geared for people being released from the hospital or other facilities rather than transient homeless. Precise plans have not been drawn and will wait for what is promised to be an extensive process of public input.

According to Olson, the new facility will not integrate Stone Soup or the currently independently operating emergency women’s shelter, as had been previously planned. Apparently, there is some evidence that smaller parsed social service centers are more effective and attract less crime than do larger multiservice centers.

Corvallis Police report the current CHF operation has increased area crime, a claim prior CHF leadership disputed, though their new leadership is not on record on this point. Community groups had formed to file a lawsuit against the shelter and to put zoning allowing such shelters up to a vote, though their response to this latest set of developments is currently unknown.

Meantime, city and county officials have begun efforts to coordinate government and non-government organization efforts to aid transient and other homeless populations. Definitely, city and county will both be making huge efforts.

By Rob Goffins and Steven J. Schultz

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