Frontrunning options have again changed for next year’s homeless men’s cold weather shelter, with Second Street remaining, the North site proposal is now being replaced as a choice by a South site. Local businessman Rich Carone is offering to purchase last year’s temporary location, for this upcoming year. If all that sounds confusing, keep reading. Actually, please keep reading either way.
Carone’s original North site proposal received unanticipated blowback from its would-be neighbors. And, after hearing the community’s concerns, he is responding, and offering another alternative to the Second Street site, which turns out to be last year’s site. Last year’s site, a vacated Hanson’s Tire Factory facility, had been assumed unavailable, as it’s new owners had only donated the site for one year’s use.
After the year, the site was to be converted into offices. However, Carone has announced that he and the current owners have come to terms under which he would buy the property, and he would then in turn lease it again for the men’s homeless shelter.
For the Hanson Tire site, Carone has offered a one-year lease that charges $.50 per square foot, $1800 per month. That is half the planned per square foot rate for the North site, but the lease also stipulates the shelter would be required to put up another $1800 monthly to alleviate security concerns for the First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op South Corvallis Store and other neighbors. The lease is negotiable, Carone is willing to lower the rent further to free up more funds for security.
The co-op, complained of difficulties involving last year’s shelter program. The bulk of their complaints did not emerge until the shelter had closed for the season. “We’ve had several discussions with the Co-op Management and Board of Directors,” explains Carone. “They have provided us a list of mitigations to avoid some of the problems from last year.” First Alternative’s General Manager, Cindee Lolik did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Notably, last year’s shelter was seen as successful when compared to prior years, with a number of clients moving from sheltering to housing, and others moving into recovery programs.
The north site proposal is not completely off the table, either. Carone continues to offer the site, though no longer for sheltering services, but possibly as a means of actual housing for the currently homeless. He states that he believes it best to take time, and build consensus for longer term solutions.
Shawn Collins, Manager of the Housing Opportunities Action Coalition, was surprised by this proposal, and would like to see more details.
“He’s offered some terms, and offered a draft lease, but he hasn’t described the whole solution,” said Collins.
County Commissioner Anne Schuster has a positive initial reaction to the proposed South Corvallis shelter.
“My initial reaction is positive. The proposal would address the issue of the Cold Weather Shelter which is time sensitive. It would then allow time to discuss and plan for other services,” said Schuster. “We need to consider the whole system, not just the initial phase of sheltering. There is a dire need for all levels of housing from sheltering to permanent supportive housing.”
The previously planned Second Street location is slated to house Stone Soup and the Daytime Drop-In Center as well as the shelter, but the Hanson Tire site does not have the required infrastructure to hold all three. The Drop-In Center has a temporary location for July, but will need to secure a space for the month of August.
The City Council is accepting public input via email leading to their meeting on Monday. With a new proposal in the mix, Mayor Traber says that he cannot guarantee that the council will make a decision of where to allocate the $60,000 in funding for the shelter.
Carone hopes that this new proposal will be an adequate compromise solution for the emergency shelter conundrum.
Public input for the Mayor and Corvallis City Council can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City Council will address this issue on Monday, July 16, 6pm at the Downtown Fire Station in the Council Chambers. The Board of County Commissioners will discuss this issue on Tuesday, July 17 at 12pm at Sunset Building, Sunset Meeting Room (1st floor), 4077 SW Research Way, Corvallis.
-By Jay Sharpe
ABOVE: Site of last year’s Homeless Men’s Emergency Cold Weather Shelter at 211 SE Chapman, across from First Alternative’s South Co-op store