The recent article in the Hermiston Herald highlights the need for a homeless shelter and other services for these at risk people.
The proposed site on part of a 10-acre parcel owned by Umatilla County at the intersection of Lind and Bensel roads is totally unacceptable to any caring person. That site is so far out and away from any needed services that it seems the county has fallen into the mindset of "out of sight then out of mind." Would you want any family member that has fallen on hard times to be temporarily housed way out there? I think not!
There are several more desirable sites in Hermiston to be considered.
1) Former site of High Desert Marina at corner of Bensel Road and Highway 395. Building is now vacant and has full utilities. Property is now for sale and would meet the needs of this planned activity.
2) A large vacant lot just east of Hermiston Veterinary on East Airport Road. This lot has been up for sale for several years. This is the road to Umatilla County Fairgrounds.
3) The most desirable location would be a vacant parcel at the end of Port Drive adjacent to the Oregon National Guard building. This site has a number of important features. Utilities are in and close by. It is close to government services like the Oregon Human Services Office just 100 yards to the east. The Blue Mountain Community College school building close by, as well as Stafford Hansell Government Center.
Groceries and pharmacies are within walking distance. Medical care is close by with easy access by emergency vehicles. Security concerns are manageable at this site. Other social services and churches are close by. This site can be easily reached by visitors and public transportation is available.
The Stepping Stones board last year proposed a shelter modeled after shelters in Walla Walla and elsewhere that use small Conestoga huts to shelter homeless individuals. Unfortunately the site they proposed was not workable, but we think option three, above, would work nicely.
Walla Walla has a functioning program, why can't Umatilla County put together a similar program? Here is how it can be done right: www.wwallianceforthehomeless.com/sleeping-center.
These services are sorely needed now for the betterment of mankind and the glory of almighty God. Please give serious consideration to the above concerns.
David and Elizabeth Riker