CORVALLIS, Ore. – A men’s homeless shelter now has a permanent address, after the Corvallis Homeless Coalition purchased a house last week.
Homeless men will have a safe place to stay during the winter months, where they will have a warm bed to sleep in. It’s the men’s cold weather shelter, a facility the Corvallis Homeless Coalition runs nightly from Nov. 1 – April 1. But this is the first time the group has had a permanent place to call its own.
“The coalition itself was formed about six years ago in response to a need for emergency shelter in the community,” said Executive Director Gina Vee. “Last year we had a difficult time.”
Vee says over past years, the coalition would rent out different places. Last year, they moved around about 25 different times.
“We couldn’t use them because of zoning issues or because of concerns by neighbors,” Vee said.
On Friday, the coalition finalized the sale of its new location on SW 4th St. where a yarn shop used to be. Thanks to grants and private donations, the group was able to purchase a $340,000 house.
“Now we’re making mortgage payments where we would be making rent payments,” said Board President Dan Hallgrimson.
Corvallis has another homeless shelter, Community Outreach Inc. But Vee says there is a much larger need to house homeless men in Corvallis.
“If we would not have been able to find a place, there would be 40 homeless men every night under the bridge or in the streets,” she said.
Vee says Community Outreach has great programs for veterans and families, but there are still more folks who need a place to stay at night.
“These individuals are going head to head with people who have degrees for jobs as dishwashers,” Vee said.
She says though homelessness is not just an issue in college towns, Vee says Oregon State University’s presence can make it more difficult for job seekers. She says not only does Corvallis have a lack of low-wage jobs, but it also lacks low-income housing.
“There are so many students living in town that it pushes out many low-income families.”
Hallgrimson says though some of the men staying at the shelter are seeking work, others have jobs but are not making enough money for rent.
“Some of them have jobs,” he said. “But they just don’t have enough and rent is the last thing they can afford to do. Quite a few of us are one paycheck away from being homeless.”
Hallgrimson says though some of the men drink, do drugs, have police records, or have medical issues, they are all human beings.
“Many of them are no different from us,” he said. “They have the same kind of aspirations and that sort of thing, but they just find themselves in a hole that is very difficult to get out of.”
Now that the coalition has a new facility, the group hopes to expand to also house women and kids. The service center will also be home to Stone Soup and the Corvallis Drop-in Center to serve as a resource base for those who need it.
Since the homeless coalition is volunteer-based, it is always looking for more volunteers. If interested in volunteering, call Gina Vee at: (541) 990-4536.
The shelter is always looking for cash donations. Checks can be payable to: A & S Accounting at 316 SW Washington Ave., Corvallis, OR 97333.
The shelter is also looking for blanket or sleeping bag donations, as well as warm socks, hats or gloves.