A 16-year-old girl was reported found early Tuesday morning, hours after Bend Police said she went missing from the Lighthouse Navigation Emergency Shelter. Police said she had left the building with an adult male but was later located.
That has prompted a question: What is the protocol when it comes to minors at the shelter?
The Lighthouse is a “low barrier” shelter.
“… meaning anybody is welcome. We don’t do any kind of background check or test for folks to be able to get through the door. We do observe people and our goal is to determine as long as someone can be safe for themselves and others, then they are welcome here in this facility,” said Even Hendrix, the associate director of the Lighthouse operation.
Low-barrier shelters also do not require proof of a person’s age.
“We want to eliminate as many barriers as possible to get people inside, out of the weather and give them a safe and stable place to be for as long as they need,” said Hendrix.
However, staff does take precautions.
“If we do encounter a minor or somebody that we believe is a minor, we always follow up with that and our first phone call is to law enforcement in the event that it’s a runaway or a missing person,” said Hendrix.
Hendrix added that minors are welcome to stay at the shelter, but staff will make sure law enforcement is aware of all minors on the premises.
He also said he is not aware of many other easier access facilities that minors can go to in the area.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of options,” said Hendrix. “The Cascade Youth and Family has the Loft and they do have a couple of shelter beds available. It’s not real extensive, but they do have something, and then beyond that, there are no other low-barrier shelters that are available for minors or families.”
According to Hendrix, the Lighthouse does have security on site and all staff members keep up to date with guests who are under 18 years old.
The facility is located on 275 2nd Street in Bend. It operates as an emergency shelter between 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. with a warming shelter that can be used during the day.