“Housing Now!” Ashland demonstration to go on to Christmas

ASHLAND, Ore.- Tonight, a group of demonstrators took to the streets of Ashland. They are demanding new resources for the homeless population. The demonstrations are scheduled to continue through the holiday.

The group, called “Housing Now!” has been demonstrating since November. They say they are occupying public spaces to put pressure on local government to help the unhoused.

People in attendance voiced their experiences, opinions, and insight on the homeless issue in the city.

“It’s not the America I was raised to believe in when we are not showing up for the people who need help the most,” said one activist.

More than a dozen Ashland locals gathered across from the public library Wednesday night to kick off a two day demonstration.

The “Housing Now!” group is demanding city-wide changes to how the homeless are treated in Ashland.

“They’re not going to do the right thing just because its the right thing. They need pressure,” said one man attending.

Event organizer and former Ashland city councilor, Eric Navickas says he and the advocacy group want the City of Ashland to make changes so the homeless are not only housed, but are also protected.

“There aren’t enough beds for the homeless population, so people are forced to sleep outside and they are constantly facing harassment from the police: citations, move-along orders,” Navickas said. The group wants the Hargadine Street parking garage to become an immediate transitional housing site. Their long term demands include a luxury tax on large homes and two social workers on the police force.

Navickas says the effort is part of a larger movement.

“So it’s a big solidarity movement for the entire west coast pushing for cities to address this crisis of homelessness,” he explained.

According to him, the demonstration is happening alongside similar acts in other west coast cities, like Los Angeles, Portland, and Tacoma, Washington.

Tacoma Housing Now tweeted Wednesday that “Across the country housing groups are doing coordinated holiday actions.” The group says they won’t stop until people are housed.

“We’re going to keep going. We are going to keep ramping. We are going to keep building this momentum behind us,” said one Ashland demonstrator. The demonstration started at 4 p.m. tonight and will continue through this Friday, Christmas Day.

The city has installed new pallet shelters for the homeless, a project that has been in the works since before the Housing Now demonstrations.  We reached out to the City of Ashland’s Housing Specialist this week for an interview, but they were unavailable.

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Grace Smith
Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.
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