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DailyTidings.com
  • Ashland City Council approves $100,000 for homeless center

  • Ashland will get a homeless center, but the groups running it won't get all the support they asked for from the city.
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  • Ashland will get a homeless center, but the groups running it won't get all the support they asked for from the city.
    The City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to grant up to $100,000 over two years to ACCESS Inc. and Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland to run the center.
    The amount is about $33,400 short of what the nonprofit groups said they needed. The groups had planned to raise another $20,000 for a total of about $153,400.
    Several councilors balked at spending more than the $100,000 budgeted and said they believe the groups can fundraise more than $20,000 over two years.
    The council also decided not to require the groups to provide showers or laundry facilities.
    Homeless people have ranked shower services as a top unmet need in Ashland, but it would be more difficult and expensive for the nonprofits to find a building that could accommodate showers and laundry facilities.
    ACCESS Executive Director Jackie Schad said the groups hope to find a suitable place to rent in 30 to 60 days, but their inquiries have been turned down a few times so far.
    Schad said ACCESS's mission is to give people a hand up, not a hand-out, and that philosophy will guide the Ashland help center as well.
    Leigh Madsen, president of the Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland board, said poverty is alleviated not by giving people things, but by teaching them how to get jobs and housing.
    Madsen and volunteers will staff the help center with assistance from an ACCESS caseworker, who will work there eight hours per week.
    The center will be open 24 hours per week.
    People can come in for quick help, but they also will be encouraged to use case management services, including assessments, goal setting, referrals and follow-up.
    People in need will be referred to other agencies that provide housing support, food, clothing, mental health services, addiction counseling, medical care, education, job and rental-readiness training and other services, according to the proposal.
    Madsen said not everyone who uses the help center will want to take responsible steps to improve their situation.
    "But for everyone who says, 'No,' another person will say, 'Yes,'" Madsen said.
    Other services will include backpack storage, use of a mailing address, Internet and phone access and job-related printing.
    Small amounts of food, clothing, hygiene supplies, bus tokens, gas money and cold-weather gear will be distributed, according to the proposal.
    Mayor John Stromberg said some people in need are not capable of taking a hand up, rather than hand-outs, because they suffer from mental illness.
    Schad said recent national health insurance reforms should broaden coverage for mental health care, providing a glimmer of hope.
    However, she noted that some people in need who reach out for help likely will be frustrated that housing, addiction counseling and mental health services are often at capacity in the Rogue Valley.
    Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.
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