A new home for six women – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A new home for six women

Written October 9th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

Demolition has started inside the building that Helping Hands is remodeling to house six women.

Albany Helping Hands is preparing to remodel a house in the Willamette Neighborhood for six women who can’t find anywhere else to live.

The 2,060-square-foot house and former church at 103 Main St. S.E., vacant for some time, once served as the original homeless shelter that later became Helping Hands.  The faith-based organization bought it last year from Pastor Les Bailey, its founder.

The Albany Community Development Department approved the conversion to a “residential care facility” on Aug. 1. On Aug. 22, the city approved a building permit, with Dahled Up Construction as the contractor. And when I looked at the site Tuesday afternoon, the interior demolition was well under way.

Neighbors had raised a number of concerns, according to a staff report by planner Anne Catlin, among them that there was  a “concentration of group homes and rehabilitation facilities in the neighborhood.”

Helping Hands told neighbors at a meeting in March that residents would sign a lease contract that requires compliance with house rules.

Originally, the plan had been to remodel the house for women with their children. But John Donovan, the volunteer development director of Helping Hands, told me this week children would not be living there.

The women for whom the house is intended are felons who have been required to return to the county where they were sentenced, Donovan told me. They are “good citizens” now, working and paying rent, he said, but haven’t been able to rent a place on their own because of their records. Without Helping Hands, they would be homeless or living in cars.

Helping Hands marked its 20th anniversary this year. It has beds for more than 100 people at its shelter on Ninth Avenue near Jackson Street. The need for more space is always great.

The organization owns three rental houses near its shelter and is hoping to buy more lots there from the city of Albany. Eventually, Donovan said, the goal is to build a couple of “pretty large apartment houses” on the site for men and women.

Donovan reminded me that Helping Hands operates on donations — including regular gifts from more than 800 subscribers to its newsletter — and the earnings of its businesses where shelter guests work. Those include a thrift shop, firewood supplier, produce garden, and U-Haul franchise.

No word on just when the women’s home on Main Street is expected to be finished. When I find out, I’ll pass it on. (hh)

10 responses to “A new home for six women”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    I read a lengthy screed by a member of the City’s Crumbling Structure Advisory Commission. In the tome, the commission member explained how the group reaches decisions as to preservation.

    In the case of the 3-junk houses being considered for demolition, it was explained that the commission is simply following rules created by larger, more influential preservation rules-makers at the Federal level. Doing so thus legitimizes the local commission’s actions, at least according to the commission member who drafted the letter.

    What I did not see in the letter was any reason “why.” The Commission blindly follows a set of “rules” created by someone somewhere else, using these “regulations” as a way of throttling innovation in a local setting.

    The obvious question is, should the City also create a commission dedicated to the future, since Albany seems to have the Past well covered. Not the Chamber of Commercialism and not the Albany-Millersburg Development scheme. Neither of those organizations are here to help Albany grow and remain a vibrant community. No, we need a Commission with real authority and political backing, a Commission with the power to make Albany competitive.

    Without such a Commission, Albany seems doomed to reside and rot in the past.

  2. Avid Reader 1 says:

    Good for John Donavan and Helping Hands….they are looking after people who need help.

    But, isn’t Dahled Up Construction the company who was sued (it was reported in the D-H) for firing workers who didn’t attend their bible study requirement?

    • Ernest Murphy says:

      McDonald’s was sued because the coffee was hot. Maybe they should give up the coffee?

      • Avid Reader 1 says:

        Yes, maybe anyone who sues over hot coffee should give up coffee! But, that has nothing to do with firing someone who refused to be forced into bible study.

  3. Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

    Yes…Hats off and Big kudos to Helping Hands. Against substantial odds, Helping Hands does yeoman’s work assisting the needy.
    Unlike the Linn County DA, the local Constabulatory, along with our City Moms and Pops, all of whom seem fully intent on the purification of Albany’s streets so as to protect the tender sensibilities of the haut monde. It seems only fair that there’s a small, religious-based, not-for-profit is willing to stand up on behalf of Albany’s execrables.

  4. Chezz says:

    Thank you Helping Hands!! They ‘Get It’. Hoping that the readers of this column stand up and contribute to these movers and shakers, quietly getting part of the job done.

  5. Cynthia Brenner says:

    I think that lawsuit should be dropped against Dahled up construction… Attendance to devotions/bible study was not forced, it was required to stay an employee… Many jobs hold mandatory meetings for employees on safety, morale, new procedures, etc. They are paid, they are required if you do not attend, you may lose your job… Oregon is an at will state for employers and employees… This guy sueing is ridiculous… If you don’t want to comply, QUIT…. If you are not satisfied with your employees attendance or performance, let them go… Hence “At Will” State… Sheesh…

  6. Shirley Byrd says:

    I would like to ask if you are involved with the Lebanon shelter project? Is there an outreach in Lebanon?

  7. centrist says:

    There may be more to the Dahled Up story than belief rights. A news piece in a reputable paper speaks of recovery and second chances.
    Will Rogers said something like ‘It’s not what we don’t know that gives us trouble. It’s what we think we know that ain’t so.”


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