Winter shelters cover Oregon City homeless
Father's Heart Street Ministry and the Oregon City Retirement Center provided shelter to local homeless people who were in need of a warm place to sleep during cold weather this time last year. On Dec. 6, Oregon City commissioners passed an emergency resolution giving many people the same opportunity this year.
At the meeting, Tony Konkol, city manager for Oregon City, noted the importance of acknowledging support for efforts of the Oregon City Homelessness Solutions Coalition in seeking solutions, addressing impacts, reducing homelessness in the community, and striving for independent living wherever possible.
City Commission members Dan Holladay, Brian Shaw and Nancy Ide approved the resolution and recognized the efforts that have been put into the organization.
Last year, the availability of the shelters was solely based on temperature. The shelters were opened when it was 33 degrees or below. This year, wind chill factor also is included. This allows more shelter to be given to the homeless through the season until March 15, rather than only opening when cold weather is expected, Konkol said.
Father's Heart has room for up to 49 homeless people from 6 p.m through 7 a.m., when the Oregon City Retirement Center also is available for up to 16 people. During the cold weather last year, both of these shelters were full every night they were open, giving 547 people somewhere warm and safe to sleep. On the nights Father's Heart reached capacity, people were transported to other shelter sites. This sometimes exceeded 100 people.
Prior to the Dec. 6 meeting, Clackamas County Housing Policy Coordinator Vahid Brown sent an email to Oregon City Community Development Director Laura Terway detailing the need for the warming shelters. Brown mentioned that last year, "we experienced an overall shelter need for nearly 1,000 people."
Brown also told Terway in his email that "a houseless woman residing in Oregon City within a few blocks from the Father's Heart died in a fire. Clackamas Fire has confirmed to me that this fire was due to warming activity."
Brown goes on to tell Terway that the woman and her partner had been sleeping in a small tent and left a candle burning for warmth while they slept, and it started a fire.
On Jan. 3, OC commissioners are expected to approve another emergency resolution so House of Myrrh Ministries, 1104 Sixth St., may house up to 28 individuals from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. each day that the outside temperature is 33 degrees or below, including wind chill factor, through March 15. By adopting the proposed emergency resolution, the City Commission would grant House of Myrrh an exemption from city Zoning Code for the sheltering of up to 28 individuals.
The shelters must comply with the city's and Clackamas Fire District's Temporary Emergency Shelter Policy.