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Klamath Tribes opens new transitional emergency shelter

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The Klamath Tribes opened its new transitional emergency shelter at 310 South Fifth Avenue in Klamath Falls. It has been three years in the making, and plenty of tears of joy were shed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony as the facility was formally dedicated on April 2. Many tribal leaders and city representatives were present to celebrate this momentous occasion.

“Not only is this a longtime vision of the Klamath Tribes, but it’s also one of my personal goals in my career was to open a transitional emergency shelter,” said an emotional Chanda Yates, General Manager for Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services. “So, I’m thrilled to be able to be part of this today.”

The facility’s programs assist struggling tribal members by providing housing and direct access to mental health, substance use, medical, dental, and pharmacy services, thus enabling participants to regain their dignity and become self-sufficient.

Klamath Tribes Chairman Clayton Dumont conveyed the significance of the shelter’s opening as he spoke to attendees prior to the ribbon cutting. “I want to make sure that everyone here knows that the Klamath Tribes has spared no effort and no expense to do our due diligence here,” he said. “The folks who are moving in here are going to have wraparound services. They will have access to medical care and behavioral health care. They will have access to substance use disorder treatments; they will have help getting driver’s licenses, filling out employment applications, basically doing anything that will help them to overcome unemployment or underemployment.”

The facility will initially shelter eight people and add two more people every two days until it reaches capacity, accommodating 20 participants in 14 pallet shelters.

Dumont acknowledged the challenges still ahead. “What we’re trying to deal with here is a big, big problem,” he said, highlighting the homeless crisis affecting the entire nation. “It’s bigger than the Klamath Tribes. It’s bigger than the city of Klamath Falls. It’s bigger than Klamath County. It’s a state problem. It’s a national problem. But I am so proud of the Klamath Tribes. I’m so proud of the city, Klamath Falls, and Klamath County for coming together to take the lead with this new facility. You’re here, and you’re with us, and we’re going forward together.”

The city of Klamath Falls showed its support with Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall attending. “It’s incredibly inspirational and something very well needed in our community and we are happy for them [the Klamath Tribes] and for the transitioning of these wonderful people,” she said.

Phil Johncock is the CEO of Technical Assistance, based in Ashland, Ore. His mission is to reduce homelessness. He has been active in Ashland and Medford, providing technical assistance, consulting directly with communities interested in reducing homelessness, and increasing capacity at shelters. He praised the people involved in making it a reality for the Tribes and Klamath Falls.

“We work with communities, helping them reduce homelessness and different plans in different ways,” Johncock said. “And we like to see programs adopt the secret sauce, which for us is case management and peer support and helping them get on a path to self-sufficiency. And they’re doing that here. And that’s the plan. And so, it’s exciting to see, we’ll be excited to see how this works out.”

Community involvement with the shelter is possible through donations, which will be accepted at the Klamath Tribes Health and Family Service Engagement Center at 633 Main Street. Items such as travel- size toiletry items, clothing, shoes, gloves, hats, and socks are welcome. Citizens can also donate food through a meal train that will be activated. The public can sign up on different days of the month to provide a meal for up to 20 people at the shelter.

“One of the biggest things we want to do is give these tribal members their dignity back,” said Marcie Chronister, Homeless Services Director for Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services. “We’re wanting them to be able to build a life and be successful. We’re kind of coming alongside them, helping them address whatever barriers they have, and just getting them able to integrate back into society.”

For individuals seeking shelter, applications can be sent in via email to the homeless services department at or dropped off in person at the KTH&FS Engagement Center at 633 Main Street, Klamath Falls 97603. Participants applying have to be at least 18 years old, a Klamath tribal member or descendant, and they have to meet certain criteria on a background check – though there are opportunities for adjudication, depending on the offenses. The priority is for participants coming out of detox, hospital, or jail.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held during the grand opening of the Klamath Tribes Health and Family Services transitional emergency shelter in Klamath Falls. (Paul Chamless/Klamath Tribes)