Cities of Umatilla, Hermiston, Stanfield, Echo and the County of Umatilla are partnering on Project PATH. They broke ground Tuesday.
UMATILLA, Ore. — Cities of Umatilla, Hermiston, Stanfield, Echo and the County of Umatilla are partnering on Project PATH. It’s been three years in the making. They broke ground Tuesday afternoon, celebrating the start of construction.
“We’re a little bundled up today. We’re worried about the weather, but frankly, I think that’s appropriate because more than anything that should serve as a reminder of what people suffer every day when they do not have appropriate shelter,” said George Murdock, Umatilla County Commissioner.
County and city leaders in Western Umatilla County joined together to create Project PATH. It stands for ‘practical assistance through transitional housing.’ They’re looking to strengthen the communities’ homelessness response..
“These are the people within our community that kind of hide in the shadows and it’s time to bring them out into the sunlight and then provide them with some humane solutions to hopefully transition them back into productive members of our societies,” said Hermiston Mayor David Drotzmann.
Leaders are contracting with Stepping Stones Alliance to make this project happen.
“We didn’t want it to be a handout. We wanted it to be more of a hand up and when we discussed the name we came up with Stepping Stones because we firmly believe that we want to provide those stepping stones to help people progress,” said Stepping Stone Alliance Chair Cathy Lloyd.
Not just transitional homeless housing, but a path to something better.
“Sometimes all someone needs is a structured ‘path’ to wellbeing,” said Echo Mayor Chad Ray.
It’s a project they said won’t just benefit the homeless of Western Umatilla County, but the entire community.
There will be vocational training or further education options. They said it’s an opportunity for homeless people to set goals towards permanent housing of their own.
This started in part by an Oregon House Bill that gave eight pilot programs funding for locally-led, regional homeless housing coordination. Each program, Umatilla included, received $1 million.
“As well as Stepping Stone Alliance brought in more than $1.1 million of their own resources, most of it from legislative funding as well,” said Umatilla Mayor Dave Stockdale. “Together we have more than $2 million in resources towards this effort over the next couple of years.”
Stockdale said there are nearly one thousand individuals experiencing homelessness over Umatilla County. People who are looking for a place to lay their heads for the night, with this new program, might get a chance for a lot more than that.
It was just about freezing on Tuesday afternoon in Umatilla County during the groundbreaking.
“Stop and think for a second what it would be like for you to be sleeping out in this brush. In this weather or even colder,” said Lloyd.
Project PATH is to be built at 81535 Lind Road in Hermiston, Oregon.
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