Salem seeks shelter for homeless as winter closes, Oregon COVID spikes


As the first frost of the season settled over Salem and overnight temperatures dipped below freezing on Oct. 25, the more than 1,500 homeless people living in the city searched for warmth. 

Some slept at the Union Gospel Mission, the city’s largest men’s shelter, or some of the smaller area shelters. 

Hundreds slept in cars and city parks, struggling to stay warm as the temperatures dropped. 

A warming shelter at the Salem First Presbyterian Church quickly reached capacity at 30 guests. 

On Sunday, the ARCHES Day Center — usually only open weekdays — opened its doors to help people stay out of the morning chill and saw a record-breaking 76 guests. 

So much attention has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn and wildfires, that the plight of those living unsheltered can sometimes get forgotten. Those same disasters could push even more people on the margins into homelessness this winter, advocates said. 





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