The city of Bend has approved a weather emergency declaration to increase shelter capacity.
The emergency declaration allows approved alternative shelters to provide overnight lodging when the temperature is expected to be below 25 degrees and all Bend-area shelter facilities have reached capacity.
According to the National Weather Service in Bend, temperatures are expected to dip under 20 degrees this weekend.
The emergency declaration took effect on Tuesday and will be in effect through March 31 of next year.
“[T]he emergency weather declaration helps meet the need for shelter during some of the coldest months of the year,” the city said in a statement.
In order to operate as an alternative shelter, facilities must complete a fire safety inspection and fix safety deficiencies before providing overnight lodging, the city said. Shelters are only approved by the city when there is a declared emergency and a need for them.
Morgan Schmidt, a pastor with Bend’s First Presbyterian Church was part of organizing the city’s emergency smoke shelter due to hazardous air from wildfires. She spoke at a city council meeting earlier this week urging the city to devote more resources toward people experiencing homelessness.
“It’s getting cold and we’re doing our best to put together a winter warming shelter, but it breaks my heart that that is left every year up to a collaboration of willing nonprofits and that it’s not more of a city priority,” Schmidt said in the meeting.