Economic indicators suggest that homelessness in Oregon is on the rise, and this year’s Marion and Polk homeless  count by the Community Action Agency conservatively estimates that 1,660 school age children, veterans and other men and women currently sleep in the alleys, urban forests, in vehicles and under bridges in our area.

People who have no homes have the same human needs as those who do: food, shelter, medicine clothing and hygiene.  But until now, there has been no comprehensive listing of where these needs can be addressed.

This guide will be revised in the months and years ahead.  Meanwhile, the City of Salem Public Library provides computer access on its lower level where people can search the Internet addresses provided here to learn up-to-date changes in services and hours of service.


• Marion Polk Foodshare ( provides food boxes and/or cooked meals through nearly 100 distribution points in Marion and Polk counties.  For a list of locations and hours, check the foodshare’s website.

• Federally funded SNAP cards, often referred to as “food stamps,” are available to Oregonians who contact the nearest Department of Human Services office, found at,  The office closest to downtown Salem is, 1185-22nd St SE.

• Arches at 1164 Madison NE provides breakfast and lunch daily.

• Meals Under the Bridge  Free dinner is served under the Marion Street Bridge every day at 5 p.m.  Managed by Dan Sheets, supported by a consortium of churches and individuals.  HMNS on Facebook.

• St. Mark Lutheran Church is where Kairos Community Lunches are served year-round Sundays 2-3 p.m. at 790 Marion St. NE.   The food and labor are provided from several area congregations and other volunteers.

• Salvation Army Shelter, 1977 Front St. NE, 503-585-6688 provides food box distribution from 9 a.m. – noon, Monday – Friday.


• Housing services change frequently, but  provides a list of area options.

• Arches, 1164 Madison NE, 503-399-9080, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., provides services for those experiencing homelessness, including a Drop-In Center, case management, help with housing placement and short and medium-term rental assistance.

• Catholic Community Services specializes in housing and support for people living with mental illness.  503-390-2699, 3737 Portland Rd. NE.  Catholic Community Services has purchased apartments from the City of Salem for housing for those that need it.

• Interfaith Hospitality Network, 1055 Edgewater St NW, 503-370-9750, houses up to four families overnight and feed them with participating churches.

• St. Francis Shelter, 1820 Berry Street SR, 503-588-0428, has provided housing for families with children since 1987.  It currently provides transitional housing for up to 13 families, for up to 6 months.  It provides individual apartments and active case management.

• The Union Gospel Mission 345 Commercial Street NE ( provides beds and overnight sleeping space for single men 18 and over as it invites them to participate in christian services.

• Union Gospel Mission also provides short-term housing for single women with daughters and with sons age 12 and younger. The women’s shelter is located in Keizer at 5119 River Road N.


• Salvation Army Shelter, 1977 Front St. NE, 503-585-6688 provides shelter for single men 18 and older.


• Arches at 1164 Madison NE provides amenities such as showers, telephones, laundry and hygiene supplies.


• Northwest Human Service’s Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program (HOAP) has provided Marion and Polk county residents with medical, dental and mental health services for over 40 years.  694 Church St NE, 503-581-5535, 24-hours a day.

• Northwest Human Services also provides immediate crisis or suicide intervention assistance for those in crisis at 503-581-5535 or 1-800-560-5535.

• Total Health Community Clinic and Dental offers care on a sliding scale.  A branch of Northwest Human Services, they are located in West Salem.—Total-Health-Community-Clinics.html.


• Helping Hands, 1755 13th St SE, 503-364-9936 offers free clothing, bedding and small household goods every Monday – Thursday and Saturday, 9 a.m. – noon.  Clients may come once every 7 days, need to provide one piece of valid identification.

• HOAP at 694 Church St NE provides clothing at the Drop-In Center. 503-581-5535.

• The Salvation Army at 1977 Front Street NE, 503-585-6688, provides seasonal coats, school supplies and Christmas toys for children.


• Salem Public Library and the library at Willamette University both offer some public computers.  Check for current hours and policies.

• James Sugar recently began the monthly online Salem Homeless Newsletter, which is associated with his web site,  The newsletter publicizes updates of interest to locals, and Sugar’s web site offers information about meal sites, warming and cooling options and more, and will soon advertise job listings for homeless people.


• Northwest Human Services provides a limited number of Cherriots day passes.  694 Church St NE, 503-581-5535, 24-hours a day.


Last winter the First Congregational Church of Christ ( at 700 Marion St, along with the adjacent St. Mark Lutheran Church, provided warming on the four coldest nights in the church basement.


• The City of Salem maintains a porta-potty in the Marion Square Park, at 551 Commercial Street NE.

• Two additional private porta-potties have been placed in Salem’s downtown core this year; one in the parking lot of the First Congregational Church of Christ at 700 Marion St. and another in the alley behind the Salem Arts Building (cross streets are State and Church, Liberty and Commercial.

• More portable restrooms are coming to Salem.  Up-to-date info on their placement can be found on the Arta Potties Facebook page, managed by Rebecca Courtney.

• Public restrooms are available in government buildings such as Salem City Hall, 555 Liberty Street SE, Salem Public Library 585 Liberty Street SE, Marion County Transit Center and Oregon State Capitol 900 Court St NE.


• 211 Network is the place to call for referral information for local resources for food, housing and social services (Dial “2-1-1” on a telephone)

• National Coalition of the Homeless  ( provides lists of resources in Oregon cities, including women’s shelters, resources for teenagers that may become homeless and a list of suggestions for those who may become homeless in a few weeks, including advice about money, food, disability, transportation and more.


City of Salem

The City of Salem serves primarily as a disperser of funds to some local non-profits dedicated to serving those needing assistance.  Its website for Housing and Social Services ( offers links to the Salem Housing Authority and information on how the City allocates federal HUD funds to be used for homelessness.  The site says the city receives about 1.2 million annually of federal Community Block Development Grant  funding that it disperses, under the guidance of Salem City Council, to projects and programs that support community development.  A portion of this money, says Mark Becktel, Interim Urban Development Director for the City of Salem includes “some assistance to homeless through grants to various non-profits.”  Becktel explains that some of the providers who receive either federal pass-through funds or City general fund support for social services include: Catholic Community Services Foundation, Salem Housing Authority, Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network, Center for Hope and Safety, Garten Services, Congregations Helping People [and] Women at the Well Grace House.

The City also administers funds from the federal HOME Program that helps local non-profits build or refurbish affordable housing.

The City’s site also provides links to agencies that help low income people become renters.

“We are a pass-through for some social services funding, but a homeless person’s primary contact would not be through the City – they would go through the non-profits that receive some of our funding,” Becktel adds.  “We can provide them a list of non-profits – but first contact should not be the City.”

Marion County

Marion County’s website (under Health Department Programs and Services) lists local programs offered in the county, including adult mental health services for homeless individuals who meet program criteria.

“In addition,” says Jolene Kelley, Pubic Information Officer for Marion County, “the Health Department provides outreach to homeless shelters with educational material especially in the area of TB. They also hold occasional immunization clinics for things like flu shots or tetanus boosters.”

Marion County Parole & Probation also provides services to homeless clients. They help with employment and education, subsidized housing, transportation (monthly or daily bus passes), and they maintain a transition closet that includes clothing and hygiene items.

Salem Weekly thanks Delana Beaton and Don  Upjohn for their contributions to this peice.