City to hold hearing on shelter


Last updated 8/29/2023 at 9:14am

(Editor’s Note: Hearing time corrected).

The Sisters City Council will hold a hearing on Tuesday, September 5, at 5 p.m. on a proposed emergency shelter for the homeless to be located at 192 W. Barclay Drive in Sisters.

A local nonprofit organization, Sisters Cold Weather Shelter (SCWS) advocates for the houseless community. The organization was awarded funding from the State through the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) to purchase and operate a shelter at a permanent location within Sisters. The SCWS board has reapplied for the emergency shelter proposed by the board to the City of Sisters initially on June 27. The new application is under House Bill 3395. That application took effect on August 15.

HB3395 specifies that a decision on the shelter application can be made with or without a hearing. The City Council opted to hold a hearing. Until this week, the City had indicated that a decision on the SCWS shelter application would be made by City staff.

The legislation does not indicate who should hold a hearing or what format it is to take, other than to specify that the approval is not subject to land use process. The only appeal option on a decision is recourse to the courts.

City Recorder Kerry Prosser told The Nugget that the hearing will be held in council chambers at City Hall and will be available via Zoom; format of the hearing is to be determined. An agenda for the hearing is expected to be released by August 31. Asked if a decision will be rendered at the September 5, meeting, Prosser stated that, “There will likely be two meetings, second date TBD.”

This is a developing story and more information will be provided as it becomes available.


Reader Comments(10)

Greg writes:

SCWS, in writing, offers its effective date as an IRS approved non profit, for tax purposes, is August 12, 2020. However, it has only had its full tax disclosure documention posted on ProPublica / Candid for 2022. SCWS filed a 990-N (e-postcard) document for 2021 claiming it took in less than $50,000 that year. Its webpage does not show a 990-N was filed for tax year 2020, the year SCWS claims the IRS fully authorized its being an IRS tax exempt non- profit. It should have. The lack of attention to detail by the SCWS is another reason a public hearing is necessary.

Greg writes:

Reference your question on reporting changes in an exempt organization's structure - locating the information took 60 seconds -

John writes:

What is the missing tax document you are referring to? I see the 990 for 2022 on the website. Also, I am not aware of the IRS reg that requires notification of a leadership change. Can you reference that reg?

Greg writes:

SCWS affirmed his organization has board insurance coverage. This category of insurance covers a board's members should the organization be litigated for things like malfeasance. The State of Oregon has only provided the funding for emergency homeless shelters and very broad guidelines. GOV Kotek announced her administration will be cheerleaders for organizations relying on such funding. Oregon's government does not want to become the deep pocket should lawsuits be filed regarding a shelter operation. SCWS should be asked to provide who its carrier is and what the coverage is amount wise.

Greg writes:

A review of both applicable bills' language reveals the following. The State of Oregon lowered the bar (the definition) of transitional housing. Now, moving out of a shelter and into a vehicle is legally transition housing. In theory, a client can check out of the proposed Sisters shelter and into a vehicle in their parking lot, or on the street in the business district. If the weather changes (cold, heat, smoke from fires) the client can check right back in at the shelter. This loophole could result in additional issues (Hunnell Road Syndrome) for Sisters not yet explored objectively.

Greg writes:

A review of both bills as additional inquiries has yet to produce any prohibition for SCWS to staff and put in place a contraband search policy. SCWS, when revisited and asked to share whatever official documentation led them to believe otherwise has yet to reply. It appears until proven otherwise that no such prohibition indeed exists. In SCWS' defense, all too often folks just opine on such matters and rarely do the homework to ensure clarity, accuracy, and application. In this instance such a lack of attention to detail just undermines SCWS' crediblity on this and other issues.

Greg writes:

This past Saturday SCWS left me a two minute VM regarding several matters discussed on Friday. He affirmed he posted the missing non-profit documents absent prior to Friday's interview and thanked me for bringing this to his attention. SCWS added he has met with the shelter's potential neighbors to construct a Good Neighbor policy. Until that process is completed SCWS will not make its protocols available. Finally, one cannot enter a federal building with contraband or a weapon, by law. Some facilities conduct searches similar to TSA checkpoints ( i.e.VA Regional Office Portland).

SCWS writes:

SCWS has recently updated their Webpage in posting our founding & financial documents. We also now have posted the Shelter operation details and FAQ's addressing the general questions we've received. We by law, receiving government funding cannot violate individuals civil liberties so NO pat-downs for weapons. This is no different then you entering any government building.

Greg writes:

SCWS might share how they will handle the issue of service animals or pets at the proposed shelter? In Portland, a major obstacle for those homeless agreeing to go into sponsored shelters was a prohibition against pets/service animals. Will SCWS be providing an appropriate policy for such animals? To include on-site kennels and perhaps vaccination assistance? Dogs, in specific, are often both companions and protection, especially for homeless females. To be inclusive for those clients having such animals and needing shelter an animal policy must be in place prior to the shelter opening.

Greg writes:

SCWS is encouraged to confirm or deny if contraband searches of a client's person and belongings will be part of their operating policy. If not, why not? Have they begun an executive director and resource navigator search? What will the $$ compensation be for both positions and the fundsites for these (State or SCWS or split?). Have they, since this past week, corrected their missing tax filings as well as notifying the IRS of leadership change? SCWS might also explain the term night owl regarding evening coverage 24/7. And provide their own operating policies and procedures for the shelter.


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