Ashland’s Moral Responsibility for the Homeless

 Dear Editor:   Unhoused or homeless people in Ashland tell me that police wake them at night and tell them to move along, sometimes threatening them with citations.

A year ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Martin v. Boise that Idaho and other western states must allow unhoused people to sleep in public places unless they can offer adequate, alternative shelter.

To prevent people from sleeping who have nowhere else to sleep is cruel and unusual punishment, according to that decision. Ashland is not offering that shelter, except to a limited number of people.   

Tonight it is raining. The low will be about 31 degrees, but this does not trigger emergency shelter. It must be about 20 degrees before that happens. There is no adequate shelter for many unhoused people in Ashland tonight.   

Ashland has a year-round dog park, but almost never emergency sleeping shelter, even in winter, for unhoused people. Yet the police continue to disrupt the sleep of the unhoused in public places.

If we are only as strong as our weakest link, generally and also during a pandemic, and if we are really all in this together, it is time for Ashland to look in the mirror.             

Jim Yarbrough    Ashland, OR