In the midst of a cold and snowy winter, CO shelters see a growing need for resources to help care for the homeless

“There is so much being done, but there is still so much need. ”

BEND, Oregon (KTVZ) – With homelessness on the rise in central Oregon and heavy snow conditions in recent times, a growing network of shelters has a long way to go.

“Winter is that time of year when you could look outside and imagine how cold it would be if you didn’t have a home,” Bethlehem Inn general manager Gwenn Wysling said Monday.

Wysling said there are great collaborative efforts between different agencies, but there are many places that could use additional support.

“There’s Bethlehem Inn, there’s Shepherd’s House, there’s the Veterans’ Village (in central Oregon),” Wysling said. “So much is being done, but there is still so much need.”

In addition to donating winter accessories such as gloves, jackets, hats and scarves, Wysling said they could use more volunteers as well.

Right now, Bethlehem Inn, Bend’s high-barrier homeless shelter, is 70 to 80 percent full at night.

With the growing need to take safety precautions due to the Omicron variant, however, they are running out of space, Wysling said.

Larry Kogovesek is president of the Cascade Peer and Self Help Center in Bend, and also oversees the Masonic Lodge, also located in Bend.

“It is a drop-in center for people with mental health and addiction issues,” Kogovesek said. “But because the homeless population has exploded over the past few years, the nature of our clientele has also changed, and it is more of a drop-in center for the homeless now.

He added that the community’s efforts are always helpful, especially now, and he hopes to eventually expand the shelter to meet the needs of more homeless people.

While the facility houses the homeless shelter overnight, it also offers emotional support tools, resources, and shelter during the day. The Cascade Peer and Self Help Center also provides showers for the homeless.

Kogovesek said the Masonic Lodge, which is larger than the Cascades Peer and Self Help Center, receives around 40 people per day.

But this is only the beginning of winter, and the need is expected to increase.

Wysling advises people to join forces with their local nonprofit organization to identify basic needs and help meet them. You can find more information on the Homeless Leadership Coalition website.