Dozens of veterans find housing after greenway sweeps

Medford, Ore. —  Medford police have been conducting sweeps on the Bear Creek Greenway since 2012. As they prepare for another sweep Wednesday, we’re learning more about the impact they’re making on one group in particular.

“A lot of times they choose not to use the services,” Mike Whitfield says, “but a lot of times they do.”

Mike Whitfield is an outreach specialist for Rogue Valley Veterans Community Outreach. Since sweeps began on the greenway, he’s been right alongside Medford police, trying to get homeless vets the services they need.

“On average there’s been about 2 to 8 [veterans] every time we go out,” Whitfield says.

“We know that they’re down on hard times,” Lt. Justin Ivens of the Medford Police Department says.

Lieutenant Ivens says the agency is now conducting greenway sweeps every single month to keep up with the tons of trash that accumulate as a result of illegal camping, but ultimately keeping the area clean and safe, comes down to connecting folks with the help they need, and that’s a big part of what they do each month.

“Each person that is cited and charged with prohibited camping is provided a list of different services and contact information,” Lt. Ivens says.

“There’s a very compassionate team of officers that are out to not hurt these people but to help these people,” Whitfield says.

To date, those connections have helped get 50 veterans off the streets.

The next scheduled sweep is taking place Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Medford police, JCSO, and Central Point police are all taking part.

Kristin Hosfelt anchors NBC5 News weeknights at 5, 6 and 11. Originally from the Bay Area, Kristin earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from San Jose State University.

She came to KOBI-TV/NBC5 from Bangor, Maine where she was the evening news anchor. Kristin has won multiple journalism awards including Best Feature Reporting in the State of Maine. In 2017, her investigation on lead pipes in Medford’s water system was named Best News Series by the Oregon Association of Broadcasters.

When Kristin is not sharing the news, she’s traveling, hunting down the best burrito, or buried in a Jodi Picoult novel. She’s also a Green Bay Packers shareholder; if you see her out and about she’d be happy to tell you the story of how a California girl became a cheesehead.

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