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Decision intended to offset city's $8,200 in system development charges owed for location of the new facility

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Regeneration House, at its new Madras Highway location, will be taking in up to 16 homeless men at a time during the winter months

The Regeneration House emergency men's shelter is prepared to house homeless men this coming winter in its new facility on Madras Highway.

That is no longer a concern as it once was after Redemption House Ministries was asked to vacate its Northeast Second Street building to make room for a new jail.

However, operating expenses remain an ongoing issue, and Redemption House Ministries staff and board members are hoping for whatever monetary help they can get. They have consequently turned to the City of Prineville, asking them to waive the approximately $8,200 the nonprofit owes in system development charges (SDCs).

"We are here to ask for your continued support," Board President Mike Wilson told the Prineville City Council during a mid-November meeting. "Finances for the shelter are often a struggle. The $8,200 in fees represents almost 10 weeks of men's shelter staffing costs."

Wilson went on to point out ways the shelter benefits the community, stating it will enhance public safety by "offering additional supervision and a higher level of accountability to men who would otherwise be roaming our streets."

"The shelter will also funnel men to other services and programs that our taxes already pay for," Wilson said, "and these services and programs offer them a chance to get to a better place in life."

The city council expressed an interest in helping the shelter with its financial situation, but was reluctant to waive long-established city fees to do it. When the request to waive SDCs was made during a previous meeting, councilors worried that it would set an unwanted precedent for waiving fees in the future.

"I realize there is a concern about not wanting to set a precedent," Wilson said, "yet we really believe this is a very unique situation and it deserves some unique consideration."

The council seemed to agree the homeless shelter scenario was unique, but members still felt it was more prudent to provide monetary help in another fashion.

"The council has some funds allotted to us to assist people in the community," said Mayor Betty Roppe, noting that $10,000 remains available through the end of June 2018.

"One of the reasons we as a council decided on this fund was for instances that nobody foresaw," added Councilor Jeff Papke. "I do think this is a way to use those funds."

While the council agreed with the idea, members differed on what amount would be appropriate. Some suggested a donation of $4,000 while others were willing to offer the full $8,200 needed to cover the shelter's SDCs. Ultimately, Councilor Jason Beebe moved to pledge $6,000. It passed by a unanimous vote, minus Councilor Steve Uffelman, who was absent.

The decision was greeted with a thank you from Wilson and the rest of the Redemption House staff and board members in attendance.

"I feel that it is something that is very important to our community," Roppe said of the shelter. "I am very much in support of this organization."

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