According to the January 2011 One Night Homeless Count, there were a total of 1,771 homeless people in Deschutes County, of those, 836 were children. This highlighting the statement given by Cyndy Cook, executive director of Housing Works, in a recent interview with the Oregon News Service. “The face of homelessness in Central Oregon is the face of families,” said Cook.
Over the last five months, Housing Works has been working to address this specific need with the rehabilitation of a previously bank-owned four-plex in Bend called Centennial Point. The recipient of grant money – awarded by Oregon Housing and Community Services, administrator of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds allocated from the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Housing Works used the NSP funds to purchase and rehab the property.
“This is a win-win for the community. Taking a foreclosed property off the market and turning it around to fix another recession-created problem: homelessness,” said Cook.
Upon completion, the two bedroom/1 bath units will be the area’s only permanent, supportive housing for chronically homeless families and individuals. Currently, homeless individuals can seek transitional or emergency shelter at various facilities in the area if they meet certain criteria, such as verified veteran status, families or teens escaping domestic abuse, those suffering from mental illness or recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
Centennial Point will not only create housing with nominal rents, but in partnership with Pfeifer and Associates – a substance abuse treatment provider in Bend – Housing Works will provide supportive services that will help these individuals overcome the challenges that have left them without a home, including on-site case management.
Sally Pfeifer said, “This partnership will ensure that we are addressing the whole picture. It takes a collaborative effort to ensure that basic human needs are being met while offering opportunities to engage in a variety of community resources designed to foster independence and dignity.”
The four-plex, located at 410 SE Sixth Street, is ideally situated for easy access to public transportation, retail, grocery stores, and medical facilities. “There are two parks within a short quarter mile walk. The location, the services, and the amenities that we’ve been able to put together are what is going to create the foundation that [the residents]will need to start over,” said Cook.
Each unit will include dishwashers, and, the four-plex will share access to an attached onsite laundry facility. Keith Wooden, Housing Works’ director of development and asset management agreed, saying, “The units themselves offer an open floor and we’ve incorporated as many efficiency upgrades as possible – Energy-star appliances and lighting, increased insulation, low flow plumbing components, low VOC paints, solid surface floor….We’ve really taken on the mindset of creating a healthy and affordable living environment for the residents. We are really proud of this project and we’re sure the residents will be, too.”