Lincoln County health and human services has been operating the community shelter and resource center since October. Over the past two months they have been utilizing the St. Stephans Episcopal Church and the 1st presbyterian church who generously offered space to use until a permanent building could be set up. The housing authority of Lincoln County has now officially purchased a building at 351 SW 7th street in Newport that will now be the home of the community shelter and resource center. The new permanent shelter is open 7-days a week, now through March 31.
The shelter opens each night at 5pm for registration and then the doors close at 7:30pm and then the shelter closes at 7am. “It is a very safety focused environment’” according to Ken Lipp the county public information officer. He added the new shelter coordinator Chantelle Estess runs a tight but compassionate ship. Pets in kennels are also welcome at the shelter. Lipp said “So many people who are unhoused rely on their pets for comfort, companionship and protection. This has been set up so they can keep their pet with them while staying warm and safe.”
Among other added services, the move allows for showers and laundry on site.
Karen Rockwell, director of the Housing Authority of Lincoln County who has been closely
involved with the shelter’s development, said the shelter strikes a great balance of
community and participant safety and providing dignity to a vulnerable population subject to
regular discrimination. The first two months of operation have also disproven a widely held
stereotype – that most homelessness is due to substance abuse and/or mental illness.
“What we’re really seeing is an aging population that can’t afford housing costs on the coast
and who are facing health issues,” Rockwell said. More than half of guests have been over
55 years old, and the oldest is 80. Shelter Coordinator Chantelle Estess runs a tight but compassionate ship, and staff has made great strides toward earning guests’ trust.
All Community Shelter and Resource Center staff and volunteers receive full background
checks and are trained for de-escalation, Narcan administration, mental health first aid,
blood-borne pathogens, fire extinguisher use and CPR. Four or five staff members and
volunteers are typically at the shelter on any given night, not including the shelter
coordinator. They’re equipped with custom vests, radios and rechargeable flashlights.
Lipp reported they have had about 19-26 people utilizing overnight shelter, with the new facility they will be able to have between 37-50 people each night. Those who come back to the shelter each night would be able to have their same bed through the season. Evening and breakfast meals are also included. Volunteers and donations of warm clothing and socks are welcomed. Lipp said the housing authority is looking for property to purchase at the north end of the county to be also to offer shelter services, which they hope to be able to do by the first of the year.