Forest Grove homeless shelter seeks new location
A local emergency homeless shelter in Forest Grove is looking for a new home.
The shelter, located at 2835 19th Ave., near Rainbow Lanes Bowling Alley, is having to relocate before the end of the year.
The shelter operates out of space previously occupied by Old Town church, formerly known as Sonrise Forest Grove. The church has chosen not to renew the two-year lease, according to shelter coordinator and Old Town church community outreach coordinator Brian Schimmel.
Old Town has found a new location, which they moved to nearly a year ago, he said. Another congregation has been occupying the 15th Avenue space alongside the shelter, but the new church too does not want to take on the lease, Schimmel said.
"The current lease is $7,200 per month for commercial space, (the) shelter only needs the space for 40 hours per week, five months out of the year," Schimmel said. "With no parent church to take on the lease, the location becomes cost-prohibitive for a shelter."
Several years ago, a partnership was formed with the United Church of Christ in Forest Grove to provide the emergency shelter each winter. For the last few years, the two churches switched off hosting the shelter during the week. Annually, from Nov. 20 to March 30, each Monday and Tuesday the shelter operates at UCC, and Wednesdays and Thursdays at Old Town.
Schimmel has been working with longtime Forest Grove pastor Jennifer Yocum to operate the shelter, but Yocum will be moving out of state at the end of May after a decade at UCC. Schimmel will now take on much of the leadership for the emergency shelters.
Schimmel made an appeal to the community during a Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Monday, May 21, asking the city's business community for recommendations on vacant buildings the shelter could make some sort of rental agreement on for two nights a week, over 20 weeks during the year.
With a current capacity of roughly 40 people — including 15 to 22 adults and two to three families — the shelter doesn't need the large, commercial space it currently occupies. Schimmel is looking for something more residential and affordable, he said.
"The shelter is willing to negotiate a temporary (short-term) rental agreement at a rate resembling a residential unit," Schimmel said. "An ideal location would be within a block of the (TriMet) corridor between Cornelius and Forest Grove."
While the lease doesn't officially terminate until the end of 2018, Schimmel said it is probable the owner of the space will find new tenants to take over the lease before then.
Schimmel said the difficulty is in looking for a facility that will agree to a lease for less than a year.
"Forest Grove has been extremely responsive in terms of volunteers for the program," he said. "Plus we have Pacific University work-study students, and they have a culture of community engagement. We see a lot of Pacific students doing overnights for them, so it works pretty well."
Schimmel said serving the community has helped him grow spiritually, and that his involvement in the shelter is motivated by a want to give empathy, love and hope to the local community.
"At its deepest level, getting involved in outreach is how I experience God," Schimmel said. "My passion is getting into the community, and helping those most vulnerable. It could range from a homeless person who needs some basic needs met, to a homebound senior who just needs some social interaction along with their meal."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the days the shelter is offered at each location and to correct the shelter's current address.
This story has been updated to remove the statement that the shelter is looking for a location "that's in close proximity to the old shelter."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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