A weather emergency declared Friday will let shelters and churches house more people during the winter, but no alternative shelters have been approved yet.

The weather emergency declaration, which is in effect until Feb. 28, will let shelters temporarily house people when temperatures fall below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overnight lows around 20 are expected Sunday and Monday night, with lows in the low 30s the remainder of next week.

Emergency shelters are used only when Bend area shelters have reached capacity. Last year, the declaration meant more people could sleep at Bethlehem Inn and Shepherd’s House. Bend Church, a Methodist church downtown, also opened its doors to women and children.

None of the alternative shelter managers have thus far asked for a required, annual fire safety inspection, Bend Deputy Fire Chief Larry Medina said.

“Usually, it’s a little bit of a process, but nobody’s come in to say they’ve wanted to open up tonight or this weekend,” Medina said Friday. “They’re all gearing up, and we should have some shelters by the end of the week, next week.”

Bethlehem Inn and Shepherd’s House intend to operate emergency cold shelters this winter. Bend Church won’t host an emergency shelter at its Wall Street location this year, but it’s been looking for a new location for several months.

Stacey Witte, director of homeless outreach at the church, told The Bulletin she hoped to have a new location set by the end of the week. Witte did not respond to a voicemail Friday, and a call to Bend Church rang unanswered.

Other churches, schools or businesses that want to serve as alternative shelters during the winter can contact the Bend Fire Department’s prevention division at 541-322-6309.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

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