April 2020

Updates

SafePlace wants to keep its neighbors informed.

A hearing before the Benton County Planning Commission has been delayed. The hearing, regarding the church’s application for a conditional use permit for Safe Camp, has been postponed again, and has not yet been rescheduled, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. When a new date is scheduled for the hearing, we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, Safe Camp staffers and volunteers are hard at work trying to keep the seven current guests at the camp as safe as possible during these challenging times. Among the recent highlights:

Safe Camp now has a full-time manager. Fundraising efforts have generated enough money to pay for a 40-hour-a-week manager at Safe Camp. Remember that Safe Camp thus far has been funded entirely from private sources, and fundraising efforts for camp operations and the construction of microshelters continue to gain steam. If you’re interested in contributing to Safe Camp, information on how to donate can be found at these sites:
https://www.corvallisucc.org/safe-camp-update/ and through the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s website, https://sustainablecorvallis.org/get-involved/donate/ (Be sure to specify that your donations are for Safe Camp, SafePlace or microshelter construction.)

Work continues to build additional microshelters, and these small structures could serve as a place for medically fragile members of the houseless community to seek refuge in this time of the novel coronavirus. These microshelters, about the size of a garden shed, are large enough to sleep an individual or a couple. They are electrically heated and come with locking doors, smoke alarms, carbon dioxide alarms and fire extinguishers. Recently, the microshelters on the Safe Camp site at First Congregational have been connected to electricity and one of the shelters now is in use as the facility’s office. County officials have said the remaining microshelters on the site can be used only by current Safe Camp residents until such time as the county approves a conditional use permit.

Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard has approved the placement of a microshelter on the property of the Corvallis Evangelical Church on Northwest Kings Boulevard for 30-day occupancy; that microshelter should be on the site around the second week of April. A similar request from First United Methodist Church also has been approved. City ordinances allow the City Council to approve a 60-day extension beyond the original 30 days, and the council is expected to take up that issue during its April 20 meeting.

For the immediate future, as the community continues to deal with the coronavirus, the idea is to use these microshelters as places to house medically fragile people with no other options for shelter. None of the seven current guests at Safe Camp has tested positive for the coronavirus, but it’s worth remembering that Safe Camp guests, like other members of the houseless community, often suffer from weakened immune systems and could be easy prey for the virus. In the meantime, volunteers at Safe Camp (and at another camp site for the houseless, located outside the men’s shelter) continue to emphasize the importance of social distancing and other preventive measures. (Remember that the men’s shelter closed two weeks earlier than usual in part because it was impossible to maintain the necessary social distancing required to hinder the spread of the coronavirus. The shelter continues to serve as a food-distribution site and as a place where campers can take showers and have laundry done.)

A new organization called SafePlace will assume a larger role in overseeing the microshelters. Safe Camp, which includes camp sites and about a half-dozen microshelters, will continue to be primarily operated by a steering committee that includes First Congregational members and other volunteers who have experience working with the houseless. But the SafePlace organization will take a role in coordinating the efforts regarding the microshelters, particularly at the other sites. This will allow case management and greater coordination between the various entities in Corvallis that are working to serve the houseless.

In the meantime, Safe Camp managers and volunteers are continuing work to overhaul admission procedures to the camp. We expect additional applications in the weeks to come from houseless people interested in staying at Safe Camp. A telephone line will be opened for potential new guests, who will be screened through a revamped procedure. The screening process will include background checks and work with a database called ShelterWare. Each guest will be asked to sign a code of conduct, which has been significantly revised; in fact, current guests also will be asked to sign the revised code. Guests who fail to follow the terms of the code of conduct run the risk of being evicted from Safe Camp.

We welcome questions and comments about Safe Camp.

Send us an email at
safecamp@corvallisucc.org. We’ll try to respond to civil emails as soon as possible.

Archived PDF Updates

March 2020

February 2020