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City to Purchase Mill Street Building For Homeless Navigation Center

5:30 AM · Jan 25, 2022

The City of Roseburg is buying property for an emergency shelter and navigation center after the Roseburg City Council approved the purchase Monday, Jan. 24. At its Monday night meeting, the City Council approved the $270,000 purchase of a 7,423-square-foot building and property at 948 S.E. Mill St. in Roseburg to use as a low-barrier transitional shelter and navigation center with services for unhoused clients. Escrow would be expected to close within about two months. “We’re excited about this first step. But there’s a lot of work yet to be done,” said Roseburg City Manager Nikki Messenger. Since last summer, City Manager Nikki Messenger, Assistant City Manager Amy Sowa, Councilor Shelley Briggs Loosely and Mayor Larry Rich have considered 16 properties throughout Roseburg after the state gave the City $1.5 million for a navigation center. The group worked with local realtors and property owners to review prices, locations, infrastructure needs, accessibility to services and environmental issues. The City officials made group visits to the five most promising sites. The Roseburg Homeless Commission recommended buying the Mill Street property, which is currently owned by United Community Action Network (UCAN) and used to provide services to their clients and is divided into office space, conference rooms, a kitchen and restrooms. UCAN Executive Director Shaun Pritchard told the Roseburg Homeless Commission at its meeting Monday, Jan. 24, that UCAN is selling the property for slightly less than the assessed value under the organization’s mission to help the homeless and neither Pritchard nor former UCAN Executive Director Mike Fieldman will profit in any way from the sale. “We see a pressing need out there in the community to help the homeless,” Pritchard told the commission Monday morning. “We are here to help the cold and hungry, and this is just another area in which we want to help with the homeless.” The center is expected to open by June 30, most likely with pallet shelters in the parking lot and wrap-around social services in part of the building while the rest is remodeled. The City and/or UCAN, on behalf of the City, may apply for grant funding to retrofit the interior for communal or “congregate” sheltering. The Roseburg Public Works Department would manage the remodeling project to save money. The building is structurally sound and can be retrofitted to allow transitional communal sheltering in part of the building and service-provider office space in another part. The property includes a parking lot big enough to hold pallet shelters that can serve as additional living space, according to a City staff memo to the City Council. The goal of the facility would be to stabilize unhoused people with temporary, transitional shelter and provide case-managed, wraparound supportive services to help those individuals transition into independent, self-sufficient lives. In April, the City was awarded a $1.5 million grant to help pay for capital or operational costs to establish a navigation center by June 30, 2022. The city must return the funds if the center is not operating by that date. The next steps in the process would be for the City to enter into an operating agreement with a qualified nonprofit or agency, and then to hold discussions about the center’s operations with neighboring property owners and the community. “We are sensitive to the impacts on the neighborhood,” Messenger said during the Council meeting. In addition, contractors must be hired to design and make building improvements. Once a remodel has been finished, unhoused people could be sheltered in a communal setting – which is not anticipated to happen before June 30. Via the City of Roseburg