Oregon's Poverty Fighting Network

MWVCAA Gets Salem Residents Out of the Cold

Intersectional Collaboration of Partners Is Saving Lives through Salem Warming Network Warming Centers

Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, in collaboration with area services, is dedicated to saving lives this winter season through the activation of warming centers. This initiative is produced via the Salem Warming Network. Centers are open to anyone who is homeless and housing unstable, including their pets.

The network is comprised of three fixed sites. Salem First Presbyterian Church is the primary location: opening each activation due to its proximity to the downtown core. Two auxiliary sites, Church at the Park and South Salem Friends Church, serve as other home bases for guests. Currently, the network capacity can support 189 guests and has the ability to transport free of charge.

Each of the Warming Centers offer hot beverages, a comfortable mat, and a blanket. This year, the activation range changed from 27 degrees to 32 degrees following input from volunteers and the community; this change has received positive responses and helps further the networks mission: to save lives.

So far this Warming Season, which spans from November 1-March 31, the Network has:

  • activated 14 nights,
  • serving 811 guests,
  • with the support of 102 volunteers
  • giving a total of 1,540 hours.

The Salem community has continued to support warming efforts by donating tea and coffee, hundreds of knitted scarves and hats, and socks for guests. To improve accessibility, a Warming Center Information Line has been created. The voicemail is updated daily with the status of the warming center and open locations.

This Warming Center Network is truly a working collaborative between entities and is a prime representation of a multifaceted service delivery model. The City of Salem supports the Warming Network by providing funds to reimburse sites for utility costs incurred by hosting a warming center; with further support provided by the city’s Fire Marshalls to help improve site capacity and safety. Congregations Helping People helps facilitate these reimbursements.

Additional partnerships with Willamette Valley Yellow Cab and Cherriots (city bus) help the network by offering free transportation to guests accessing Warming Centers. It is this transportation to/from unsheltered camps, and between sites, that helps eliminate barriers to accessing warming services. For families who visit warming centers, Family Promise has committed to offer alternate sheltering services.

Lastly, Willamette Valley Humane Society provided 18 kennels in order to help house pets who access sites with their owners.