Partners Work on Temporary Homeless Shelter at State Fairgrounds

​Work to create a temporary homeless shelter at the Oregon State Fairgrounds is underway now by the City of Salem, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action AgencyChurch @ the Park, and other local homeless advocates.

"Homelessness and housing are City Council priorities and COVID-19 adds a layer of complexity, said Mayor Chuck Bennett. I'd like to thank the State of Oregon, State Fair Board, as well as nonprofit advocacy groups for stepping up to lead this effort coordinating the temporary shelter."

This concerted effort comes as local leaders contend with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, limited homeless shelter space in our region, and City preparations to carefully conclude overnight camping in Wallace Marine Park and Cascade Gateway Parks which began as part of the City's Emergency Housing Declaration approved by City Council last winter.

While contracts still need to be signed, the temporary homeless shelter will offer a place to sleep and shower for at least 100 residents in a socially distanced 30,504 square foot arena.  

Shelter sponsors, including the City of Salem, Church at the Park, a Salem Leadership Foundation program, and Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency are grateful to the Oregon State Fairgrounds management team as the charge for renting the State-owned property will be significantly reduced.

The operational aspects of the shelter will be managed by Church of The Park, including 24/7 staffing, handling security contractors, custodial services, and assisting shelter clients with access to stable housing programs, mental health services, and other health and human service programs.

The City, including the Salem Housing Authority, remains committed to expanding shelter programs, mitigating impacts, and working with local leaders to reduce barriers that lead to homelessness. For more information, including how community members can get involved in expanding housing programs  or volunteer in support of homelessness, visit our webpage or email [email protected]

​Frequently Asked Questions

Will the temporary shelter impact my neighborhood?  
The temporary homeless shelter at the Pavilion is planning for a maximum of 100 guests with a limited additional number of parking spaces. The shelter will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Church at the Park, a Salem Leadership Foundation Program.  Church at The Park will hire security contractors and custodial services, and assist shelter clients with access to stable housing programs, mental health services, and other health and human service programs.  

Who else is involved in managing the temporary homeless shelter at the Oregon State Fairgrounds?

The City and our homeless advocate partners will also be working in conjunction with the shelter management to track attendance, assess the needs of the visitors and develop long term housing solutions for registered shelter visitors. The Fairgrounds Council will also play an intricate role in authorizing venue space. 

Who will be allowed to stay at the temporary fairgrounds shelter?

The shelter will serve people  who are currently experiencing homelessness. The space will be available for  use at night and  during the day for food, water, and important information about employment, mental health services and permanent supportive housing solutions. All users will be required to follow behavioral agreements and refrain from use of substances like alcohol, non-prescription drugs or other substances.  

I have more questions about the temporary homeless shelter at the fairgrounds, who can I speak to?

If you have questions about helping someone access the shelter or making a donation, you can contact Church @ the Park.

How long will the homeless shelter operate at the Oregon State Fairgrounds?

The shelter is not designed to be a permanent solution or fixture to the State Fairgrounds. The shelter will provide a safe and dry place for area homeless to sleep and stay while homeless advocate partners and the City continue to secure more permanent shelter space and identify locations. 

How is the shelter at the Fairgrounds being funded?

Shelter sponsors, including the City of Salem, Oregon Housing and Community Services, Church at the Park, a Salem Leadership Foundation program, and Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency are grateful to the Oregon State Fairgrounds management team as the charge for renting the State-owned property will be nominal as we will only be required to cover the costs of running the shelter such as garbage, housekeeping and electricity.  The City's portion of the funding is coming from our non- departmental General Fund of our budget passed in November 2020 by Salem City Council. Other contributors have received grants tied to supporting the homeless.  

Why is the Oregon State Fairgrounds being used as a temporary homeless shelter?

The Oregon State Fairgrounds is a recognized Oregon Public Corporation and has been deemed as a location to serve our region during an emergency or public health crisis by State leaders and the Oregon State Fair Council. In the Fall, the Oregon State Fairgrounds was used to host Oregon wildfire evacuees including livestock and displaced families and their belongings. Currently, the Jackman Long Building at the State Fairgrounds is being used in conjunction with Salem Health and The Oregon National Guard as part of Marion County's COVID-19 vaccination and testing site.  Because, of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency and limited shelter space available to Salem's homeless, the Oregon State Fairgrounds Council has agreed to allow the Pavilion to be used as a temporary shelter space for up to 100 people. The hope for this temporary solution will be to get homeless people connected to resources and indoor overnight shelter as local leaders continue to build and identify permanent housing solutions and low-barrier shelter space for Salem's growing homeless population.

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