ARCHES staff and volunteers went under the Market Street overpass for the 2021 point in time count on Jan. 26, 2021. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

The City of Salem needs more shelter - especially for women – and it’s willing to pay businesses to host it.

City officials are in a time crunch as approximately 120 people will be forced to move off Oregon Department of Transportation property next week. The state agency intends to sweep encampments on Market Street and along Salem Parkway starting July 19.

That’s led city officials to search for private property owners willing to provide a temporary shelter for unhoused women. The news was first reported by The Center Square.

Emily DuPlessis-Enders, city spokeswoman, said the city is looking for a 2,500 square foot space in Salem that’s accessible to people with disabilities and has bathrooms. City officials decided to offer the stipend Monday evening in the wake of ODOT’s announcement of impending sweeps.

She said the city didn’t yet know what the stipend would be. The money would come out of $1.9 million in federal funds the city had earmarked for a temporary shelter in the former Union Gospel Mission site downtown.

City officials had considered turning that into a temporary shelter, but the building needed an upgraded sprinkler system that was cost prohibitive, DuPlessis-Enders said.

Union Gospel Mission’s new men’s shelter is set to open on July 19 and provide 284 beds. But there won’t be additional shelter space for women until a new shelter on Portland Road opens in the coming months.

UGM’s Simonka Place and United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley’s Safe Sleep shelter both offer options for women but are consistently full.

DuPlessis-Enders said business owners must be willing to enter a memorandum of understanding with the city for up to 90 days.

She said a Salem social services nonprofit has already agreed to manage the shelter but declined to say which nonprofit.

Individuals who are interested in partnering or would like to share suggestions should contact the city’s human rights and federal compliance manager, Gretchen Bennett by email at [email protected]

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] 

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