Solving Homelessness Requires Working Together
This week I visited with Dan Clem at the Union Gospel Mission of Salem. Dan is the executive director of the leading non-profit organization serving homeless people in our community.
Union Gospel Mission has been serving people in our community 365 days a year for the last 65 years. It operates a shelter for homeless men with close to 200 beds which are full every night and Simonka’s Place for women and children which has nearly 100 full beds.
Union Gospel Mission sends teams out into the streets every day to find individuals without shelter and offer them warm socks, hot coffee and an invitation to a safe place to sleep.
But Union Gospel Mission doesn’t just shelter homeless people in our community, through its New Life Fellowship Program, it provides support and services to help people off the streets and into stable housing and employment. This work truly revitalizes people’s lives.
The work that the folks at Union Gospel Mission do is so important. They work on the front lines to ensure that some of the poorest people in our community are not left out in the cold.
And ensuring that people on our streets have a safe place to stay is vitally important to our whole community.
This week I met with a farmer who struggled to deal with a homeless camp on one of his fields. A few weeks ago, I learned that a homeless camp started on property owned by the Willamette Valley Humane Society. And even at the Union Gospel Mission, the staff, many of whom were once homeless themselves, related stories of unauthorized camps on their property impacting their ability to serve their homeless guests.
Homelessness is on the rise in Marion County and we must find solutions that are long-term, not just short-term fixes.
Ensuring that we have adequate shelter and affordable housing is imperative to solving this crisis. Marion County is working hard as part of the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Initiative task force and as your county commissioner, I look forward to being a part of this effort.
The Task Force prepared a strategic plan and the county is moving forward to implement this plan.
You can read the plan here.
I look forward to working with local governments and strong private organizations like our Union Gospel Mission to ensure that our community is safe and every person in our community has shelter.