Catherine Mater, the downtown property owner who has been among the most vocal opponents of siting a men’s homeless shelter at 545 SW Second St., is opening legal and political fronts in the battle.
On Wednesday — one day after the Benton County Board of Commissioners voted to fund shelter operations this year and two days after a similar decision by the Corvallis City Council — Mater announced plans to seek a court order to block the shelter from opening.
“Events are already underway to serve notice of legal injunction against the property owner, shelter operator and funding agent (United Way),” she told the Gazette-Times.
She said allowing a shelter that admits people who are drunk or high on drugs poses a danger to the neighborhood and said she would be meeting with other downtown property and business owners to discuss a legal strategy to block the facility, which is scheduled to open Nov. 1.
“This certainly has always been on our docket, right from the beginning,” Mater said. “We hoped that this wouldn’t happen, but here we are.”
Mater plans to push back against the shelter politically, as well — by running for the Ward 2 seat on the City Council.
The seat is currently held by three-term Councilor Roen Hogg, who has also opposed locating a men’s cold weather homeless shelter downtown. Hogg is stepping down to run for mayor against incumbent Biff Traber, who cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of funding the downtown shelter at Monday’s City Council meeting. Charles Maughan, community manager of the Julian Hotel Apartments, is making his second run for the seat.
If Mater is elected, it would be her second stint as the city councilor for Ward 2: She held the same post in 1975 and 1976.
At the time, her cause was supporting Hewlett-Packard's plans to build a high-tech campus on the edge of town. This time around, it will be to keep a low-barrier homeless shelter out of the city center.
“There’s a point in time where you’ve got to say enough’s enough and you have to walk the talk,” Mater said. “I’m going to see if we can get this resolved the right way.”
Shawn Collins, the project manager for the Housing Opportunities Action Council, which coordinates the joint city-county plan to address homelessness and which has championed the Second Street location, declined to comment on Mater’s threat to seek an injunction against the shelter.
In 2016, a lawsuit filed by downtown property owner Charlie Ringo forced the closure of an earlier version of the men’s cold weather shelter at a location on Southwest Fourth Street.