EMMA ROUTLEY/ THE CHRONICLE

The warming shelters have been built and placed behind the Post Office parking lot and Dari Mart at 1200 E. Main St.

COTTAGE GROVE – When a local organization said it could no longer offer shelter for people without homes on sub-freezing winter nights, city officials and residents stepped in.

Beds for Freezing Nights – a local non-profit organization that arranged warming centers for individuals and families when the temperature dropped below 29 degrees – alerted Cottage Grove city officials it could not maintain the program this year. 

Richard Meyers, city manager, wanted to make sure people still had a place to go. The Community Sharing Warming Shelter (CSWS) program was established to fill the need.

“Because of COVID, doing a congregate facility in a church just wasn’t the way to do it where you have all these people sleeping in one big room,” Meyers said. “So we started working with the county and others. The County said it was buying some of these (shelters) and we said those would be perfect for us. We got it all together.”

Lane County bought 120 shelters and stationed them across Cottage Grove, Springfield, Eugene, Florence, Oakridge and Veneta.

EMMA ROUTLEY/ THE CHRONICLE

Cottage Grove city officials have acquired 18 shelters and can accommodate up to 38 people who need housing on nights when the temperature drops below 29 degrees.

The shelters contain one to two beds, allowing for a maximum capacity of 38 beds. Each shelter also includes a heater, electricity, a smoke detector, windows and an emergency exit.

There are benefits to the CSWS that have not been provided in past programs. For instance, shelters are designed so couples or families can stay together in one room, and pets are allowed.

Eighteen of these shelters will be available behind the Post Office parking lot and Dari Mart at 1200 E. Main St, Cottage Grove until the end of March. Approximately seven visitors are anticipated to utilize the warming shelters on open nights. Check in is 7 p.m. and check out is 8 a.m.

The site also has three bathrooms and a separate shelter room for volunteers located at the entrance.

COVID-19 risks have been considered throughout the planning process, officials said, and everything was designed to be easily wiped down. Meyers said a contractor has been hired to regularly disinfect the site with backpack sprayers. 

The shelters are available for protection from cold nights, but they are ideal to keep on hand in case of emergencies.  

The shelters are multi-functional, helpful for homelessness and also ideal for use in emergency situations. 

Natural disasters, accidents, or any situation that might render someone temporarily homeless could have a bathroom and shelter brought directly to them.

Meyers said, “We’re hoping we can keep them after this is done after March, and then we’ll just store them. Then if something happens in South Lane County or Cottage Grove we have them available. We can load them on a flatbed truck and haul them wherever we need to put them.”

The site is now ready for guests, officially opening once staff are selected and trained. For next year, Meyers said they have ordered a mobile shower.

CSWS welcomes everyone who wants to come in from the cold, so long as they adhere to the program’s policies.

Contact the Community Sharing Warming Shelter phone for activation updates at 541-674-3895.