While many of us are staying home and avoiding the public at all costs, some of our neighbors remain vulnerable, transient, and even without shelter during this global pandemic. We checked in with local shelters to see how they’ve been adjusting during these challenging times, as well as what they need from the community to support their unhoused clientele.
Community Outreach, Inc.
Community Outreach, Inc. is a Corvallis based organization that continues to serve the community in multiple ways, including providing emergency shelter and transitional housing for the unhoused population.
COI is continuing to serve as many folks as they can through the pandemic, however they have stopped taking new intakes to slow the spread of the virus. Their normal capacity of 70 people has been reduced to 30 to ensure social distancing among residents.
Currently, COI is not taking volunteers for the shelter, however medical service volunteers are needed. As for donations, more masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper would be appreciated. COI is not currently accepting clothes or food to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Not sure about a donation? Call the front desk at (541) 758-3000. Monetary donations can be given here.
Corvallis Housing First
Corvallis Housing First, which houses individuals experiencing homelessness in three different locations – Partner Place, DeDe’s House, and Van Buren House – is still housing people during COVID-19.
According to their Facebook page, CHF is in need of coffee tables, a microwave, and a small fridge for residents moving into their new homes. If you can help, call Andrea Myhre at (541) 602-8502.
Corvallis Men’s Shelter
According to Services Coordinator Shawn Collins, “The mission of the Men’s Shelter has always been ‘Safe Sleep.’”
“On March 19, the Men’s Shelter closed as an overnight shelter, because it was determined that we could not provide the social distance required to keep guests, staff, and volunteers safe in our facility,” Collins explained. “We re-opened on March 20 as a ‘food and hygiene’ center, and have been operating daily in that mode, providing access to food, showers, bathrooms, drinking water, and laundry service to men and women experiencing homelessness.”
Unhoused campers near the area are more able to “shelter in place,” according to Collins, because of the services provided at the Men’s Shelter. “Shelter staff are also engaging with campers daily, delivering trash bags, picking up trash, and generally checking in on conditions and health.”
The Men’s Shelter is not currently accepting volunteers. Their biggest needs are funding, feminine hygiene products, bottled water, and canned food. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes would also be appreciated.
Donations can be sent to the UUFC at 2945 NW Circle Blvd, Corvallis, OR 97330, with a note that the donation is for the Corvallis Men’s Shelter. Material donations can be made at the Shelter, 211 SE Chapman Pl during our operating hours.
Safe Camp, a shelter located at Corvallis’ First Congregational Church, is currently taking multiple measures to ensure that individuals experiencing unhousedness are safe within the community. Safe Camp, like other local shelters, intends to utilize the microshelters being built around Corvallis. Additionally, a telephone line is being set up for those in need of shelter.
According to the church’s website, “Safe Camp staffers and volunteers are hard at work trying to keep the seven current guests at the camp as safe as possible during these challenging times.”
To help Safe Camp, you can make donations here. Be sure to specify that your donation is for Safe Camp, SafePlace, or the microshelter construction.
Room at the Inn
Room at the Inn is a women’s shelter located in the Community Center of the First United Methodist Church in Corvallis. This shelter is still housing multiple women during the pandemic, and has extended its dates and hours of operation due to the virus.
The shelter typically closes in April, but is extending operations due to the pandemic, remaining open 24 hours a day. Three meals a day plus snacks are being provided to women at the shelter, so they don’t have to leave to get food.
Room at the Inn is accepting volunteers under the age of sixty with no chronic illnesses to help with overnight shifts, kitchen production, and laundry services. The organization is also looking for donations that will help their unhoused population. Masks, gloves, and other PPE would be extremely helpful.
Jackson Street Youth Services
Jackson Street Youth Services, a shelter for youth, is still operating during the pandemic. According to their website, “We have chosen to keep our most critical services available to ensure the ongoing safety of our community’s most vulnerable youth.”
Currently, Jackson Street is providing street outreach to youth ages ten to 24, accepting youth ages ten to 17 who are experiencing homelessness or are in immediate risk of abuse and/or homelessness, helping families seeking support via phone, and accepting homeless individuals ages 18 to 20 who want to participate in their transitional living program.
Executive Director Ann Craig explains that though they are keeping their critical services open, they are also screening for COVID-19 symptoms, doing daily temperature checks, taking care to sanitize, and practicing social distancing. Case managers are also now keeping in contact with clients via phone call and video chats. HYPERLINK “https://jackson-street-youth-services.networkforgood.com/projects/24103-jackson-street-youth-services”
Monetary donations are needed to purchase and provide food for residents. Drop-offs will not be accepted to slow the spread of the virus. While they are not taking volunteers, the center is trying to find ways for current mentors and volunteers to connect with residents virtually.
Jackson Street will be holding a fundraising event that will take place via Zoom on April 30 at 5:30 p.m.
Microshelters, or garden-shed sized safe places for unhoused people, have been approved by City Manager Mark Shepard for 30-day permits at certain locations, including the Corvallis Evangelical Church on Northwest Kings Blvd and the First United Methodist Church. These microshelters will help in sheltering more of the unhoused population, and also be necessary for medically fragile individuals seeking safety from the virus.
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By Cara Nixon