Explore paid work projects
I am a student at Southern Oregon University, and I’m writing to you about the issue of homelessness in Ashland. Many of the complaints I’ve seen are from businesses about aggressive, panhandling transients. This makes the problems temporary and resolution difficult.
While there isn’t much we can do about the transient population, the homeless residents of Ashland are another story. In 2016, the city proposed working with the Downtown Streets Team from California to help get homeless people working. Amid fears over the cost of $300,000 a year and the danger of stepping on the toes of Ashland’s Community Resource Center, the plan failed.
Despite the worries about conflicting with the ACRC, I haven’t found mentions of paid work projects in the style of the Downtown Streets Project. Not to detract from the work they do, but if we introduce additional programs through the ACRC inspired by the Downtown Streets Project, we can raise money to pay homeless people to work on community projects such as building a permanent homeless shelter. This would benefit the community, and allow homeless people to work for pay to build a resource for themselves and others.
I’m a freshman at Southern Oregon University. During my time here I have spent some time exploring the downtown area and have noticed the homeless in that area.
When at the end of the term I was tasked with writing a letter addressing the issue of homelessness in Ashland, I had a hard time coming up with a solution. I realized to me homelessness in Ashland isn't just homelessness in Ashland. Homelessness is an issue in virtually every city in America and should be addressed on the state and federal level, not just by communities.
I found online that approximately 20 percent of the homeless in our country are veterans. I believe we as a country should take a fraction of our military budget and dedicate it to catering to our veterans; supplying them with therapy and psychological help, and making sure that if they cannot re-enter society that we provide them with housing.
There are many reasons for people being homeless, but I believe those reasons could be fixed through government programs. Overall I believe if we want to end homelessness in Ashland we need to work on simply ending homelessness.
Fines don't work
I feel that citations and fines towards those on the streets only exacerbates the growing homeless problem in Ashland.
A study published in the Mail Tribune reported that “The number of citations increased from 129 in 2015 to 145 in 2016 and 302 this year through October.” This proves that this system of fining the homeless for panhandling or sleeping in their cars does nothing to stop them, only makes it harder for them to finance a better lives for themselves.
According to first-hand reports, being caught sleeping in your car can cost you anywhere from $200 to $300, which is not cheap for someone who cannot afford to put a roof over their head. I think Ashland needs to adopt an improved upon version of Portland’s safe sleep idea. Somewhere for the impoverished to sleep at night without facing persecution. This is obviously not a solution to the blaring homelessness issue in our beautiful town, but it’s a start.