Falling temps fuel rising need at Bend shelters

Warm clothes, gear sought by Shepherd's House, Bethlehem Inn

POSTED: 9:48 PM PDT October 8, 2013    UPDATED: 9:58 PM PDT October 8, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

Homeless shelters across Central Oregon are gearing up for the colder weather coming our way. They’re seeking donations to keep the homeless warm, and with no drop-off in population over the summer -- a disturbing new sign -- they’re now facing a predicament.

With winter rapidly approaching, homeless shelters like the Bethlehem Inn are transforming their facilities to be able to handle the winter.

“We’re just doing all the things we need to do right now,” Managing Director Chris Clouart said Tuesday, ”We’re collecting sleeping bags, coats, and we changed out our clothing rooms from summer clothing to winter clothing.”

“So we’re taking all the steps we normally take to try to make sure we have the resources available to help people through what is a difficult time of year,” Clouart added. 

The warm clothing from last year has all been distributed, so the shelters are looking to the community for help.

“Winter clothes that we had have obviously been handed out this past winter, so we just need to replenish our shelves and our storage,” Shepherd's House Director Curt Floski said.

Shelters in Central Oregon have an urgent need due to the high homeless population in summer. That carry-over to the winter has increased the demand for clothing.

“Our expectation usually is that in the summer, our numbers drop," Clouart said. "That didn’t happen this year, so we didn’t experience what we normally experience, which is a lull in our population which then picks up once winter hits."

Along with needing warm clothing, the Bethlehem Inn is seeking items for people of all ages and sizes.

“So what we really lack are clothing that essentially run on one spectrum or the other,” Clouart said, “So clothing for small people, and clothing for large people. Those are the types of clothing that we really need.”

Floski emphasized the impact the community can have on the homeless.

“Just encourage people as the winter moves deeper in and it gets colder out that they could keep people in mind and keep us in mind with those kind of items,” Floski said.

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