Community leaders host public forum on homelessness


ASHLAND, Ore. – Options for Helping Residents of Ashland, and Representative Pam Marsh, talked about ways homelessness is being addressed in Jackson County on January 3rd.

In a public forum, Representative Marsh spoke about the state’s role in addressing homelessness, through the state’s, Project Turnkey, which buys hotels and turns them into housing for struggling Oregonians.

The city of Medford approved a purchase for a Project Turnkey property late last month, and the OHRA Center in Ashland was also made possible through the project.

The OHRA Center is a resource center and low-barrier emergency shelter that helps struggling Oregonians get back on their feet.

“It has provided us an opportunity to have resource navigators, our critical staff, work more closely with shelter guests to help them get on that path towards stability and towards housing,” said Diane de Ryss, an OHRA Board Member.

De Ryss said a lack of affordable housing is the leading cause of homelessness, and The OHRA Center helps by giving people a place to stay for up to six months, as well as providing them resources to find jobs and housing.

We spoke with a few people at the forum, who told us they felt like progress was being made, but some felt that more still needs to be done.

“For those that do not seek or do not wish to participate in the structure that is set up what happens to them? Do we have it perfect, where is there room for improvement?” said Daniel Besler, Forum Attendee.

De Ryss said OHRA is looking for funding for outreach staff, who could connect with people on the streets.

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