Southern Oregon’s Rental Assistance Programs: A Closer Look
Gov. Tina Kotek declared a state of emergency due to homelessness on January 9, following a previous declaration set to end on January 10. Extending the emergency order was directed at allowing Oregon to keep the momentum going for recently opened shelters, and she confirmed that there was still a crisis, with much work still to do.
On X (formerly Twitter), Kotek published a graph indicating that their 2023 goals have been exceeded, including 136 more households prevented from falling into homelessness than the goal of 8,750, 93 more households were rehoused than the 1,200 goal, and 432 more new low-barrier shelter beds were created than the initial target of 600. But she said, “We can’t let up until everyone has a safe space to call home.”
Preliminary data shows that our urgent efforts on homelessness are working. We can’t let up until everyone has a safe space to call home. pic.twitter.com/K1rlMD2lKv
— Governor Tina Kotek (@GovTinaKotek) January 19, 2024
Kotek has signed three executive orders declaring a state of emergency due to homelessness, requiring government-funded organizations to prioritize housing and rental assistance. Drilling down to the details of their progress:
- Jackson County Continuum of Care (CoC) and MAC indicated that they have exceeded the initial goals set in the previous declaration that ended on January 10.
- Partner agencies Community Works, OHRA, and ACCESS rapidly rehoused 217 households.
- The City of Medford, Rogue Retreat, the City of Ashland, and OHRA worked together to establish an additional 123 shelter beds.
- Agencies Unete, Resolve, The Arc Jackson County, The Salvation Army, OHRA, and ACCESS partnered to prevent 435 households from being evicted.
Multiple organizations providing rental assistance in southern Oregon are government-funded, through Oregon Housing and Community Services. Many agencies, such as Jackson County Continuum of Care and other partner agencies help offer housing, rental, and eviction assistance. However, assistance looks different for everyone and is guided by rental advisors and based on action plans.
Director of support services at ACCESS, Melanie Doshier also confirmed that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to stabilizing housing. ACCESS aims to help people to get to a level that doesn’t necessitate them coming back later for assistance. Each case is unique and case management is a critical part of an effective rental assistance program.
She also indicated that the desperate need for housing assistance in Jackson County was exacerbated by the wildfires of 2020. At that point, there was already a critical shortage of affordable housing and the large number of houses lost in Medford and Jackson County created a unique crisis. She acknowledged that there is still a long road ahead. Fortunately, there is a lot of funding coming to Oregon to rebuild and ACCESS along with other community partners will be part of the rebuilding.
The initiatives and programs currently underway in terms of the state of emergency are:
- In Jackson County: The Continuum of Care (COC), ACCESS, Community Works, OHRA, Rogue Retreat, the City of Ashland, the City of Medford, Unete, Resolve, The Arc Jackson County, and The Salvation Army.
- In Curry County: Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA).
- In Klamath and Lake counties: Klamath/Lake Community Action Services.
- In Josephine County: United Community Action Network (UCAN).
- Multiple other partnerships are also involved.