Ashland is offering $100,000 spread over two years for a social services organization or a faith group to provide services to help homeless people and others in need.
The Ashland City Council approved the effort to seek proposals on Tuesday night.
The chosen group would not have to provide services out of a single location, but could propose a creative concept.
In late 2012, Ashland offered $100,000 over two years to cover facility costs for a help center, but no groups stepped forward to apply.
"We're interested in creative responses," said Councilor Pam Marsh of Ashland's new effort to get more help for those in need.
The city has suggested — but not required — a number of services that the successful applicant could provide or coordinate, including referral to existing assistance from other groups, mental health and substance abuse counseling, showers and laundry facilities, blankets, Internet access and phone charging.
Most councilors said they also want applicants to consider offering job skills assessments, employment preparation and job placement services.
Just as Ashlanders are encouraged to buy local, Councilor Dennis Slattery said he would like employers to hire local, whether the businesses are looking to fill day, seasonal or permanent jobs.
Slattery said he envisioned a website where job-seekers could place their profiles and businesses could hunt for workers.
"I'd like to connect employers and people who need jobs," Slattery said, noting that many people in town are unemployed or under-employed.
Applicants will be expected to present a plan for how they would continue providing services after the two years of city funding ends.
They could potentially apply in the future for human services and housing, low income and homelessness grant funding that comes to Ashland from the federal government each year.
If the city receives any proposals on its new effort to help those in need, councilors will meet with applicants in an informal study session to hear presentations and ask questions.
Councilors will then choose the winning application at an official city council meeting.
Past homeless day centers in Ashland at fixed addresses have not survived, in part because of neighborhood opposition at one location and because an organization providing services at another, later location shifted resources to help families in need in Medford.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or email@example.com.