PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In Salem, organizations are faced with opening warming shelters for the homeless earlier than planned. This comes as the city faces a budget shortfall in staffing the shelters.
This year, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action’s ARCHES Project had to kick into gear even earlier. This weekend, they’re extending their day center into an overnight warming shelter, serving the full capacity of 30 people and another 30 in heated tents set up in the parking lot Friday night.
“The warming shelter beds we provide are really one of few shelter bed opportunities where anyone can walk through the door at 1 o’clock in the morning, freezing cold, on a last-ditch effort for a warm place to stay,” Marshall said.
Last year, The ARCHES Project provided warm shelter beds to hundreds.
“We provided 2,655 shelter bed nights to 604 unique individuals. It’s a huge feat but it’s also a very big accomplishment,” Marshall said.
Without the resources, those same folks often don’t have anywhere to go.
“They’re stuck on a park bench, they’re stuck under a tree or they’re stuck on the pavement on some business door front at the mercy of whatever God they want to pray to that night with the hopes that they make it through one more night,” Marshall said.
As Salem faces a budget shortfall this year with state funding cuts, the non-profit will no longer be able to staff warming shelters with paid positions, relying solely on volunteers. They are in serious need of volunteers, especially in larger capacity shelters.
“Find four hours to give. Find four hours of time to donate to help save upwards of 75 lives,” Marshall said.