Ashland Homeless Shelter Update: Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek Extends Homeless Emergency

Governor Extends Homeless Emergency; 
Ashland’s Shelter to Remain Open until March 31
By David Runkel
Gov. Tina Kotek yesterday morning indefinitely extended the state’s homeless emergency declaration, specifically mentioning Ashland as a city to receive additional state support.
This prompted Mayor Tonya Graham to announce late in the day that the city’s new $2 million homeless shelter for 32 peoplewill remain open with its current configuration through the end of March.”
No information was provided on an extension of the occupancy permit or a new contract with Opportunities for Housing, Resources and Assistance (OHRA) which is managing the shelter at 2200 Ashland Street under a $200,000 contract that expires today. 
Under the governor’s extension, Jackson County will be receiving $1.5 million in additional state funds, Acting City Manager Sabrina Cotta said. Distribution of the funds to local municipalities will be decided later.  Cotta was authorized by the Council last month to enter into a new contract with OHRA during the first part of January when the Council is out of session.
Graham said the Council will work on a long term plan for the shelter after receiving a proposed Homeless Master Plan from the Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee, one of seven Council’s support committees. The report is due by June.
The severe weather shelter operated by OHRA in the garage area of the shelter will also continue to open on nights when the temperature is due to drop below 32, Graham said.   Council has before it a proposal by Cotta to open this portion of the shelter only when the temperature is predicted to fall below 25, which is the practice in Medford and Grants Pass.  This could save the city more than $100,000.  Council ran out of time to decide the issue at its last meeting. 
In announcing the extension of the state’s homeless emergency declaration, Gov. Kotek said “preliminary data from Oregon’s housing and community services shows more than 1,000 low-barrier shelter beds have opened, exceeding the goal by 432 beds. More than 1,200 people have moved off the streets. That’s about 90 more than expected and nearly 9,000 people on the verge of becoming homeless did not; another goal exceeded. 
“These outcomes are a critical threshold of progress and proof point that we can deliver results,” Kotek said.

The governor agreed more work needs to be done and signed two new executive orders: 

  • EO 24-02: To maintain the added capacity to the state’s shelter system, rehouse people experiencing homelessness, and prevent homelessness. Ashland, Medford and Jackson county were among the communities in the state mentioned in the order as needing more assistance. 

  • EO 24-03: To refresh the state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness and direct them to develop plans for the governor’s consideration. This is in response to the analysis done through EO 23-03, an order signed last January that directed state agencies to prioritize reducing both sheltered and unsheltered homelessness in all areas of the state using their existing statutory authorities. 

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