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Grants Pass says warming station for the homeless 'could open soon'

Grants Pass could finally have a warming shelter open for the homeless during the coming cold winter nights, the City said.

Posted: Nov 13, 2019 6:05 PM
Updated: Nov 15, 2019 11:43 AM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Grants Pass city officials are narrowing in on a plan that could see an overnight warming shelter open for the homeless "in just a matter of weeks."

These kinds of shelters usually only open temporarily, when the weather is particularly cold, hot, or otherwise potentially harmful. Kelly Wessels with the United Community Action Network (UCAN) underlined the difference to officials at an October 24 roundtable.

“It’s important that the shelter lane be very separate from an inclement weather station. Those two words (shelter and station) can not be separated enough as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Weeks reportedly said that her group had already found an appropriate site for the shelter, and lease negotiations could be finalized by the end of this week.

“We have a building that is well located, well lit, and well identifiable,” said Wessels. The exact location is being kept under wraps for the time being.

UCAN has sourced about $100,000 to fund the station's creation and operation for the next year, primarily via grants from Oregon Housing and Community Services.

“It doesn’t mean it will be open every day. It will be weather triggered. It certainly is not a cure-all,” said Wessels.

The building currently being looked at has about 10,000 square feet of room and "ample parking." The initial plan would put 25 beds in the station at a time.

Other aspects of the station — including on-site security, food, meals, water, and medical supplies — were still under discussion, with Wessels exploring the possibility of subcontracting with other agencies. She said that there would likely be enough funding for two full-time employees, with the rest being handled by volunteers.

“I believe in volunteers being well supported, but there also has to be somebody trained that is responsible,” said Wessels.

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