I would like to clear up what I feel are misconceptions expressed in The World newspaper article of Tuesday, March 9, about the “Homeless Campground at Methodist Church.”
It was an area where those who could not afford or find other housing could stay at and would be semi-safe. Each resident was interviewed by the minister – they were asked what their plan was to transition out of the camp. Rules were outlined and it was emphasized that if rules were broken, they would meet with the minister or the police or both, and, if necessary, they would have to leave – not to return.
In order to help them with their transition, arrangements were made to have representatives of multiple agencies come to the church so residents without transportation could meet with them. Sanitation, hand washing facilities and garbage services were provided. Each morning (seven days a week), the minister would check on each resident and check their temperature and, if necessary, arrangements would be made to transport them to the emergency room.
Each morning, volunteers would be present to make coffee and hot cereal. Security was provided by the residents, the minister and Coos Bay Police Department. The minister became a councilor as well as problem solver at time. All of this was supported by generous donations from the community and the work of volunteers. Successful transfer of housing a jobs did happen.
This activity was possible only with the dedication and many hours put in by Pastor Don Ford, to whom the area owes a deep sense of gratitude. I am glad to see that the plan put forward by The Deveraux Center and the city of Coos Bay are an extension of the plan Pastor Ford had initiated at the “Homeless Campground at the Methodist Church.”