Cut-rate sale price still too high for Bend shelter

Deschutes County's $1 million figure well below what it paid

Bethlehem Inn to buy motel from County

BEND, Ore. - Bend's homeless shelter, the Bethlehem Inn, has been renting the building its operating out of for years from Deschutes County.

The county bought the building back in 2008 for $2.5 million, expecting the Bethlehem Inn to buy it from them, but the Inn has not been able to afford it ever since.

Jonathan Corpus, an Afghanistan veteran, is one of 90 people currently living at the former motel on NE Third Street.

"I was a national sales person, traveling all over the country," Corpus said Wednesday. 

Two months ago, he lost his job and before he knew it, he was faced with living on the street.

"Bad things happen to good people, and sometimes you don't even see it coming," Corpus said. 

Corpus and many others are grateful for the Bethlehem Inn.

"Everybody is motivated. Nobody is looking for a handout by any means here," Corpus said.

Now, the Bethlehem Inn needs a helping hand. Deschutes County bought the old motel for the Inn to run out of in 2008 for $2.5 million. 

"It's been our goal all along to acquire the property, so we can run and have the kind of shelter we need going into the future," Executive Director Gwenn Wysling said.

Although the Bethlehem Inn wants to buy it from the county, they just haven't had the money. The recession was especially hard on the shelter and the people it serves.

"We hit a real brick wall," said Wysling. "It increased the need for those who experience homelessness."

Until they can afford to buy the property, they are leasing it from the county.

"The Bethlehem Inn would like some long term ownership, some long-term control on the property, in order to do improvements they would like to do," said county Administrator Tom Anderson.

Improvements include a possible expansion, to help even more people like Jonathan Corpus.

"If it wasn't for the community support and the Bethlehem Inn, there would be a whole lot of people sleeping under bridges. They'd be in some deep trouble," Corpus said. 

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