Bend Value Inn will be converted into a transitional shelter for the homeless thanks to a $2.9 million grant through Project Turnkey, a state program that funds the purchase and renovation of motels into shelters for people who are experiencing houselessness or at risk of becoming unhoused.
The City of Bend originally sought to acquire the Old Mill & Suites for the facility in February, but it was abandoned after a feasibility study showed the building was unsuitable for the project.
"We continue to be committed to finding a property that could be eligible for Project Turnkey funding," said Mayor Pro-Tem Gena Goodman-Campbell after the purchase of the Old Mill & Suites fell through. "We need to take advantage of funding opportunities like this to provide much-needed shelter options for our unhoused community members."
The latest grants come after the Oregon legislature funded an addition $9.7 million into the program on June 25, bringing total Project Turnkey funding to $74.7 million. Funds were distributed by the Oregon Community Foundation, which distributes more than $100 million in grants and scholarships annually.
"Project Turnkey is wrapping up with 19 total properties throughout 13 counties in Oregon, realizing approximately 900 beds/units with these latest two grant announcements," said Megan Loeb, program officer, Oregon Community Foundation.
The Bend Value Inn will give unhoused people a place to stay and connect them with services through NeighborImpact, an organization that supports economically disadvantaged people in Central Oregon. The programs and services at the motel are meant to give them the means to find longer-term solutions.
“Central Oregon has experienced recent tragic losses among our vulnerable unhoused neighbors. This partnership is a first step in support of those at highest risk of succumbing to our harsh elements and who may not be welcomed into other shelters.”—Scott Cooper
"We are thrilled to receive this funding from Project Turnkey," said Bend City Councilor Megan Perkins. "Supporting our community members who are unhoused or at risk of losing housing is a top priority for City Council. This state funding will enable us to open a much-needed transitional shelter in Bend and provide safe housing for our neighbors who need it most."
The 28-room motel is expected to be fully renovated and operational by winter, after adding safety system upgrades to the property and renovating "three fully accessible units as well as three units with visual indicators and audio enunciators to serve guests with hearing and visual impairments," according to a press release.
Beyond accommodations, the shelter will have essentials like clothing, meals and hygiene products, on-site case management, health services, resource navigation and links to permanent housing solutions. There will be culturally specific support services dedicated to tribal members, veterans, domestic violence survivors and Latino communities. The funding for the shelter was provided just over two weeks after two unhoused people, Joseph Davis and Alonzo Boardman, died in a record-breaking heat wave at a campsite on Hunnell Road.
"Central Oregon has experienced recent tragic losses among our vulnerable unhoused neighbors," said Scott Cooper, executive director of NeighborImpact. "This partnership is a first step in support of those at highest risk of succumbing to our harsh elements and who may not be welcomed into other shelters."
Project Turnkey has funded over 900 units of emergency housing in Oregon, a 20% increase in the state.