Contact: Thomas Hottman
Klamath-Lake Community Action Services will join the Klamath Works human services campus under development on South Sixth Street.
The Klamath Works human services campus is gaining momentum as it moves toward breaking ground on South Sixth Street, potentially in August or September, according to Alan Eberlein, spokesperson for Klamath Works.
The 18-acre site owned by Sky Lakes Medical Center, formerly the home of West One Auto, now holds a non-emergency transportation unit with plans in the works for much more. The campus is considered a one-stop hub for social services in Klamath County, and the hope is that less people will fall through the cracks when it comes to poverty, mental illness, or other situations of crisis or hardship.
Details of the buildings' layout are still being finalized, but so far, the campus is scheduled to have a men's facility, women's emergency facility and a kitchen, dining hall, and chapel for the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission, which will relocate from Walnut Street near the downtown area. The women's and children's facility, off site currently from Walnut Street, will remain in use.
The campus will also include a building housed by Klamath and Lake Community Action Services (KLCAS) and Klamath Works, the group behind the campus, along with a sobering station.
The transition to a one-stop option for those in need of social services is ideal for the Klamath Basin, according to Bowman, which is an area she believes is still struggling with the aftermath of a recession.
"The need is there, always," Bowman said of the agency's services.
"When the recession hit, the need definitely sky-rocketed ... what we haven't seen here is the bounce-back. I mean you go anywhere else in the state, up to Bend, go over to Medford even and you see building going on and you see housing being developed. We are not seeing that here in Klamath County."
Bowman said KLCAS will be part of the second phase of the project, with the first involving the relocation of some Klamath Falls Gospel Mission facilities.
The mission is expected to relocate their men's facility, emergency women's facility, kitchen, dining room and chapel facilities to the site. There will also be one apartment available for a family on site, Berry said.
A date is yet to be determined for breaking ground, according to Kent Berry, executive director of the mission.
Local churches and organizations have met the mission's goal of $32,000 to purchase 70 new beds for the new mission.
"I'm very grateful for the churches and individuals that helped reached the goal of getting the beds," Berry said.
The mission had identified a $2.35 million price tag for construction of facilities in 2015.
When asked, Barry declined to comment on current funding levels for the project. He anticipated more information will be released in the near future.
Donna Bowman, executive director of KLCAS, is excited to move into the campus for the additional space and proximity to other services.
Bowman expects to start the strategic planning process for the relocation this fall, although it's less certain when the agency may be on site.
"We have outgrown this building," Bowman said, of the agency's Claremont Drive site. "We have one more place I can put an employee and then we are totally full here. So we really need to look at what our new building will look like and how it will accommodate us."
After discussions in 2015 with Klamath Works, Bowman said the agency's board of directors decided on the move, which will potentially give them more square footage; space for a larger board room and classroom, and broader visibility.
"I'm kind of viewing it as Project Family Connect, only on a much bigger, more permanent scale," Bowman said of the campus concept.
"It really benefits people that are trying to get their lives back on track," Bowman added. "It helps save on resources. We know what other people are doing so we're not doing duplicative services. And then I think it helps us become a part of this community. To get out of poverty, it takes a community because you have to have the resources – everybody working in the same direction. What this will do, I'm hoping, is provide that sense of community for these people."
Diversity of services
Bowman said she likes the diversity of services that will be offered on campus, including services for those who are homeless.
"It's sometimes really hard for people to understand that our homeless families and the people that are really low income and fixed income are a different group than our transient group that's downtown that the mission serves," she said.
Bowman said construction of a new facility at the campus could happen within the next two years, depending on funding. The agency estimates roughly $2 million in funds needed for construction, and plans to use local contractors, according to Bowman.
The plan is for KLCAS to utilize a building along with Klamath Works, as well as potential satelite offices for agencies unable to relocate their full building to the campus.
Eberlein welcomes KLCAS, and as many other organizations as there is interest, to join the campus.
"We want as many social service providers as we can get on the campus," Eberlein said on Wednesday.
Ready to move
KLCAS has moved four times in nine years, and Bowman said she's not worried about the move affecting those who would seek out the agency's services.
"We don't advertise what we do, people find us," Bowman said.
"We haven't had a whole lot of difficulty with people finding us."
Housing is the basis for which KLCAS started and where services stem from.
"We always believe that housing's a stability for people," Bowman said. "You can't really access services or anything else if you don't have a place to go at night."
- For those interested in becoming part of the Klamath Works human services campus or learning more about the concept, email Bryan Irwin, executive director of Klamath Works, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To learn more about Klamath and Lake Community Action Services, visit klcas.org, or call 541-882-3500.
- To learn more about the Gospel Mission and how you can help, visit kfallsgospelmission.org, or call 541-882-4895.