Q&A: 2020 Virtual Tour of Homes
Q: If I make a contribution to Unity Shelter it supports all efforts so I don’t have to choose one?
A: Yes. Contributing to Unity Shelter helps provide the staff support for all programs. The best category for an unrestricted gift to Unity Shelter is literally Unity Shelter.
Q: Where is your greatest need? Monetary? Materials? Other?
A: Staffing is our fundraising priority. Between now and June we seek to raise $100,000 to support the existing and growing staff needs of the Unity Shelter programs. We are being invited to take on greater responsibilities and need a deeper and wider staff network.
Q: Can Unity Shelter accept donations of stock?
A: Yes. Stock donations at this time must be done through one of the partner churches. If you are interested in a stock donation, please contact Shawn Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go directly to one of the host churches. It’s so good to see how our community is working together on issues of homelessness.
Q: Will Unity Shelter be getting federal and state funding at some point?
A: We need to spread the word about Unity Shelter to MANY others! Unity Shelter is beginning to receive federal and state funds, in particular CARES funds during the pandemic. The City and County also have provided US with CARES funds. Our programs receive Community Development Block Grants. These funds have paid for direct program delivery and also have supported the construction of 15 new microshelters as well as some other infrastructure needs for the Men’s and Women’s shelters to transform into 24/7, year-round programs. We are building a strong public-private partnership to fund this work.
Q: What is the relationship between Unity Shelter and HOPE (Home, Opportunity, Planning and Equity Advisory Board). Are they working together?
A: HOPE is an advisory Board, designed to give recommendations to the City Council and County Commission. Members of Unity Shelter board as well as members of program steering committees serve on the new HOPE commission. HOPE reaches out to Shawn Collins, our Executive Director, in particular to discuss how to implement ideas that HOPE is researching, evaluating and advising the City and County on. So, we are very connected. A key difference is that HOPE advises city and county governance, and Unity Shelter is an independent organization which carries out programs.
Q: Do you have a location yet for the next batch of microshelters? How much did they cost and who provided the funding?
A: The locations for new micro shelters are still being sought and negotiated, primarily with faith-based organizations. The cost per shelter is $13,500. The city of Corvallis is covering most of the cost of 15 new shelters.
Q: Is there land available for a larger micro shelter village?
A: That would be wonderful, but there is not any available currently.
Q: Does Unity Shelter have discretion to serve people with criminal records, including felonies? These people are often closed out of programs funded with federal dollars. (As explained by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow.)
A: Yes, Unity Shelter programs serve individuals with criminal records.
Q: I am interested in volunteering. What are the needs for volunteers that might involve less in-person contact (I’m in a vulnerable group for covid-19)?
A: Overnight volunteers at the men’s and women’s shelters have minimal contact with other people. Also, kitchen volunteers at the women’s shelter have minimal contact with others.
Q: Do volunteers need to go through any kind of training to get involved?
A: For the most part, volunteers will receive on-the-job training, and there are always well-trained staff available to help them “learn” the ropes. We do ask that kitchen volunteers at Room at the Inn review basic food safety guidelines before coming to work. They are posted on the sign-up website.
Q: Thank you for a wonderful presentation! I want our church to get involved and also get information to some of our Alternative Education students. Do you need to be a certain age for the shelters? We have homeless students that couch-surf. Our students can also volunteer but I need to know if there is a minimum age for volunteers?
A: Students can definitely stay at the shelters, and can volunteer at the shelters also. Room at the Inn requests that volunteers be at least 18 years old, although those as young as 14 may help in the kitchen, serving and cleaning up after meals.
Q: I saw PDX is using https://www.palletshelter.com/ which may reduce the cost of the microshelters but not sure. Also given that those experiencing homelessness are likely under the Oregon Health Plan is Samaritan doing more, for example, direct case management to help you out?
A: Our SafePlace production manager researched many microshelter designs and works with local contractors to construct units that provide a safe, healthy environment for residents. Unity Shelter programs include case management, and helping clients to access OHP is always offered. Yes, Samaritan Health partners with us providing several services, including some case management.
Q: I'd like to know more about the camping at the men's shelter.
A: The City has just approved an area around the men’s shelter for a managed camping site. Unity Shelter is helping to design, lay out and eventually will provide services to the people who will move into the managed camp site.
Q: Thank you for this information! Is there any work being done toward offering Safepark to individuals?
A: Unity Shelter is not involved in Safepark options at this time.
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