Homeless center work continues

Benny Westcott

Work continues on the Family Assistance and Resource Center’s (FAC) managed outreach and community resource facility on a land parcel east of Bi-Mart following its oversight committee’s initially targeted Dec. 15 opening date.

“We’re doing this kind of by hook or by crook, and we have to have occupancy approval, so we’re just not quite there yet,” said Brock Byers, the Lebanon-based organization’s program manager. “That’s kind of where we’re at right now. The good news is we have quite a few more huts, so when we do open, we’ll be able to open with more guests.”

He didn’t know exactly when the center would open.

“I’m not really sure yet until I get with the plumber and the electrician,” he said, “but they’re very active and making sure that we get open as soon as possible.”

Eighteen huts were on site as of Thursday, Dec. 16. Students in Sweet Home High School instructor Will Coltrin’s construction class have assisted in their development. (The structures join Sweet Home’s former City Hall annex, which was moved to the location in late November to become a resource and community center.)

“The school’s really working hard right now to finish them all out before they leave for break,” Byers said that day. “They’ve completed construction of them all. Now it’s the assembly piece of it. But regardless of where we’re at with that, we would open even with the existing huts we have.”

FAC representatives have previously discussed eventually having 30 huts in place. It was reported at a previous facility oversight committee meeting that 30 people were on a waitlist to move into the facility when it’s ready for intake.

FAC volunteer Mike Lufkin, who currently lives in his car in town, was busy painting one of the 18 huts Thursday. He said he might be a tenant or worker at the center when it’s ready to go, calling it “an opportunity for me to get off the street.”

Sweet Home City Manager Kelcey Young discussed the homeless facility at the Dec. 13 city council meeting, having described it as an issue she talked about “probably every day.”

“We were hoping for a soft opening at the FAC facility this Thursday,” she said at that meeting. “There have been some additional hiccups, but the city staff is working very hard on trying to help with any of those. But we are probably going to also look at some other contingency plans in case it is delayed further.”

“I think we have a pretty good idea on how we’re going to move forward for now,” she continued. “And we are going to be looking at cleaning up the area around the old city hall, and right now our goal for that cleanup is by Jan. 3.”