Salem looks to solution-based housing for those experiencing homelessness

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — New micro-shelters are coming to Salem as part of a citywide effort to get people off the streets and into stable housing.

The shelters are on city-owned property and give people a sense of safety and normalcy that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

“I have the stability of being more permanent,” said Kay Carey, who moved to the shelter community last April. She’d been living in a tent for six years prior. She said these shelters give her more freedom.

“We’re not looking over our shoulder because the cops are going to come in and tell us to move.”

Carey is also able to stay with her dogs and family, something other shelters don’t allow.

“That was one major thing,” she said. “Me and my husband can be together other shelters would separate us.”

It’s more than just a place to call home. There are case managers onsite to help with medical care, job applications and apartment searches.

“So, they’re getting connected to all the resources just on one site without even having to leave,” said Josh Erickson who runs Church at the Park. He said 400 people are on a waitlist for one of the shelters, and they’re focusing on bringing in more women.

“Salem has a large population of unsheltered women and so how do we support the most vulnerable in our community.”

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Church at the Park partnered with Edomo to build the shelters. CEO and President Sonya Wheeler said it’s a huge accomplishment to take people off the streets, give them transitional housing and help them into an apartment.

“To see the beds in them the sheets on the beds the coverings on the windows it’s really neat,” she added.

“This is the first step out of a tent a lot of times and into an actual roof over your head,” said Salem city councilor Chris Hoy.

The number of chronically homeless people in the area, meaning those who have been without housing for three or more years, is double the national average. Hoy believes micro-shelters play a critical role in their response to this crisis.

“It’s not just a Salem issue, it’s not an Oregon issue, it’s a nationwide issue,” he said.

“A sense of security it’s still stressful it really is because I really want I to my own place it’s been too long,” said Carey.

Those at the Church at the Park plan to fill each one of these new shelters on Wednesday.

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