A local advocate for the homeless has launched a protest against downtown property owner Catherine Mater’s plans to seek a court injunction against a homeless shelter set to open this fall at 545 SW Second St.
Mater, who owns property on the same block as the planned men’s cold weather shelter, announced Wednesday she intends to ask a judge to keep the facility from opening.
On Thursday afternoon, Riley Doraine staked out a small patch of ground in Riverfront Commemorative Park across from Mater’s office. She was there again on Friday, surrounded by hand-lettered cardboard signs bearing slogans such as “Homeless Lives Mater,” “Houses for All” and “Don’t Injunct 545.”
Doraine, who currently has a place to stay but has been homeless in the past, said she intends to keep protesting at the site “until the injunction goes away.”
One other person joined the demonstration for awhile on Friday, and Doraine said she hopes to attract others to the cause.
“This is intended to be a snowball effect,” she said. “The longer this goes unresolved, the more people will show up.”
Doraine noted that there have already been months of debate over the site of the proposed seasonal shelter, which has moved from one location to another for years. Mater and Rich Carone, who also owns property on the same block as the shelter site, have been promoting alternative locations, but decisions this week by the Corvallis City Council and Benton County Board of Commissioners paved the way for the shelter to move ahead on Second Street.
“We’re asking that (Mater) drop the injunction and let this proceed,” Doraine said. “We’ll work with her on mitigating the issues she has concerns about, because really that’s what we should be focusing on.”
At one point Friday afternoon, Mater came out of her office and had a five-minute conversation with Doraine.
Afterwards Mater told a reporter that she has still not filed a legal motion seeking an injunction against the shelter but expects to make a decision on how to proceed early next week.
“It’s a hard decision to me, but at the same time we never would have had this conversation otherwise,” she said, adding that she has tried to discuss potential mitigation measures with shelter supporters in the past.
“Maybe this is the way we get to it,” she added. “We’ll see what happens.”