COTTAGE GROVE – Carry it Forward, a Lane County non-profit that serves unhoused people, has been awarded $ 200,000 annual contract with the City of Cottage Grove to run the shelter site off of Highway 99.
“I feel that this is the best bite we can make,” councilor Kenneth Roberts said at Monday’s council meeting. “We can protect our parks. We’re saving in the long run, because we’ll be paying for this one way or another. That’s the reality of this situation.”
Kris McAlister, Carry it Forward director, says they will work alongside the City and community. “We are very community-based. We listen to the needs of the community that we’re in,” McAlister said. “We have supports that are internal and external to our organization that we make available. Internally we have case management, advocates and experts in housing navigation and getting access to resources in the community. And externally, we work with a volunteer support network to address needs.” Carry it Forward reports that 85% of individuals that enter its programs are now settled in permanent housing.
Over the course of the last few months, City staff and the council have discussed what addressing
homelessness in Cottage Grove might look like while still adhering to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Martin v. Boise decision and Oregon House Bill 3115. The court ruling prohibits the city government from preventing people from sleeping on certain public lands. In order to prevent those lands from being used, city staff and counselors have deeply explored creating a transitional housing program.
The project on Highway 99, a no-/low-barrier site, adheres to these rulings and intends to first get unhoused people stabilized, then integrate them into the broader community. The program will provide 24/7 staff and monitored oversight of the shelter facility for Cottage Grove residents, case management, vocational training and community support efforts for each resident. The facility can house up to 40 individuals.
“This is a shelter that’s meant to keep people permanently out of homelessness,” McAlister said. “I’m not here asking to help you, because you are opening doors for people when other communities have not. This is a community that is trying. We’re committed to making sure that Cottage Grove grows.”