Engineer and downtown business owner Catherine Mater has come up with an updated plan for consolidating the men’s cold weather shelter, the Stone Soup meal service and the Corvallis Daytime Daytime Drop-in Center into one location.
Mater, who opposes plans to site all three services at a downtown building on Southwest Second Street, originally had proposed combining the agencies at the old Flomatcher manufacturing plant just east of the Willamette River bridges on city-owned land in Linn County.
Now, Mater is proposing to use Flomatcher as a temporary location for the upcoming November-through-March men’s homeless shelter season.
Mater said she has private funding commitments of “several million dollars” that she plans to use to construct a new building that would house all three services as well as treatment facilities at a site to be determined.
The goal, Mater said, is for Stone Soup and the drop-in center to remain at their current church locations for an additional year. Mater and other community members oppose the Second Street site because of its possible impact on livability and downtown businesses.
One of the complicating factors in Mater’s earlier proposal is that Linn County officials balked at the idea of permanently changing the use of the 9.5 acres at Flomatcher to social services.
Mater, who met Wednesday with Linn County Commissioner Will Tucker and Planning Director Robert Wheeldon, said that one-time-only temporary use is a different matter and “we now have a pathway forward with Linn County.” Tucker and Wheeldon could not be reached for comment.
No word was available regarding who is in Mater’s investment group and how much money is involved.
Money played a key role in putting plans for the Second Street location on hold. On June 14 the Benton County Board of Commissioners decided to withhold $60,000 that backers of the Second Street plan were hoping to use for shelter remodeling and operations. The city of Corvallis on Monday approved $60,000 for men’s shelter services in its 2018-19 spending plan but have not allocated it while they work to schedule time to review the Second Street and Mater proposals.
During the budget hearing councilors received suggestions from members of the public to budget $120,000 and, essentially take over the county share, but they did not act on that proposition.
Stone Soup and the drop-in center receive money from the city’s annual social services grants, but they fundraise for the rest of their budgets and do not depend on the city and county for funding to the extent that shelter operators do.
Shawn Collins of the United Way, project manager with the Housing Opportunities Action Council, said he hopes that the City Council makes a decision soon regarding the allocation of funds because the clock is ticking on his timelines for getting Second Street ready for the planned Nov. 1 opening of the shelter. The council, which is co-chaired by Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber and Benton County Commissioner Anne Schuster, is charged with implementing the county's 10-year plan to end homelessness.
Collins, who has been supervising the HOAC’s search for a men’s shelter solution for the past two years, said he has contractors “teed up and ready to go” on the remodeling work at the Second Street building.
“But until we have budget approval we’re kind of hanging out," he said. "We would like to see that decision made by July. If the council doesn’t act by August 1 that puts any site in jeopardy.”
Collins met Thursday with a group that included Traber, Schuster and Stone Soup board member Sara Ingle.
“The mayor is very aware of the timing,” said Collins.