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Freezing Temperatures Prompt Expansion of Emergency Shelter Access In Bend

OPB | Dec. 20, 2012 2:15 p.m. | Updated: Dec. 20, 2012 7:12 p.m. | Bend, Oregon

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With overnight temperatures dipping into the 20s this week, Bend is taking steps to make sure its homeless population doesn’t get caught in the cold.  Bend’s City Council has approved an emergency ordinance allowing shelters to open additional beds for those with nowhere else to go. 

The Bethlehem Inn in Bend.

The Bethlehem Inn in Bend.

David Nogueras / OPB

For more than a decade, the Bethlehem Inn has provided support, food and shelter to the homeless in Bend.  But because of fire codes, the shelter can only accommodate about 75 people at a time. This ordinance allows organizers to put beds in the dining room on nights the temperature falls below 25 degrees.  That’s provided the space passes muster with the Fire Marshall.

Shelter managing director Chris Clouart says the need is there

“We find that families right now are so overburdened,” says Clouart. “I’ll have a 56-year-old woman come to me and say ‘Well, I could stay with my daughter, but my daughter has got her sister living with her with her two-year-old.  And there just isn’t enough room.’”

The declaration remains in effect until March. 

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