The Oregon Legislature has granted a McKay High School student’s request for help funding a homeless youth shelter in Salem.
Lawmakers included $200,000 for the shelter in a $93 million omnibus spending bill approved Saturday as the 2018 Legislative session neared its final hours.
Money for other Salem-area assistance programs was also appropriated, including for homeless, mental health and addiction services.
Raul Márquez, 18, is trying to raise $400,000 to open the shelter in the former Catarino Cavazos Center, once a center for at-risk Latino youth that’s now up for sale.
He already had received a $100,000 grant from the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, where he is a teen board member, and $24,900 in community donations.
Márquez, an intern with Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, pitched a request for $275,100 to Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, at the beginning of the session.
“This community has been my home for the last 18 years, and it troubles me to see that Marion County has the fifth-highest number of homeless students in the state,” he later wrote in a letter to Courtney and Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, who co-chairs the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.
Márquez could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Salem-Keizer Public Schools had 93 students classified as “unsheltered” during the 2016-17 school year, the Oregon Department of Education reported.
Salem doesn’t have any dedicated overnight shelters for homeless youth, although Northwest Human Services offers about a dozen emergency beds for people aged 18 to 24. And if police drop off an 11- to 18-year old, Northwest Human Services can house them for the night.
The shelter’s proposed site, at 220 15th St. SE, has six bedrooms and is 3,482 square feet.
Mid-Valley Community Action Agency has agreed to run the shelter once it has been purchased and renovated.
The 2018 Legislature allocated money to other Salem-area projects as well:
- $350,000 to the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency for homelessness prevention programs and homelessness services. Services including rental assistance, rapid rehousing, street outreach, day shelters, and emergency shelters for youth, families with children, and individuals fleeing domestic violence.
- $1.5 million to the Salem Housing Authority for the renovation of Southfair Apartments and Yaquina Hall. This project will rehab two buildings in Salem for a combined 93 units of affordable housing. Twenty units will be for those suffering from serious mental illness.
- $150,000 for a Marion County Sobering Center. The center will provide services to inebriated people, keeping them off the streets, out of jail and out of hospital emergency rooms.
- $250,000 for the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation’s Mike McLaran Student Skills Center. The project will rehab the Starkey-McCully building on Commercial Street NE into a center to provide students with workforce training, college preparation, mentoring, and academic and social support.