ASHLAND, Ore. – With the colder weather setting in an advocacy group protested in Downtown Ashland Tuesday night. They told NBC5 they’re standing up for the unhoused and homeless. Now Ashland Police gave them a 24-hour eviction notice Wednesday asking the group to leave.
The eviction notice came after a list of bold demands covering the Ashland Plaza, which brought attention to an issue organizers said is hidden within the city.
“The city has offered really no options for these people and it’s resorted to move-along orders and citations,” said organizer Eric Navickas.
In Downtown Ashland, a group says they plan to spend Tuesday night in front of city hall. Organizer Eric Navickas, an activist, said they hope the demonstration will encourage city leaders to take action and help house more of the homeless before it gets too cold.
“These people are out every night sleeping in the cold and this isn’t a new situation,” said Navickas.
Ashland resident Daniel Rueff said he’s lived in the area for nearly 30 years. Rueff said he used to provide meals for Ashland’s homeless community every Saturday night. But over the years he says the city has tightened up regulations surrounding homeless activities
“Right now we have people hiding behind bushes. We have old ladies that are homeless that got burned down. Now they’re being moved from one bush to another,” said Rueff, “The police come in and say you gotta move, and they say well where. They say just not here”.
There are six demands advocates want the city to meet,
- Open a site for transitional housing accommodations.
- Invest in sixty cabins or tiny homes.
- Repeal the exclusion zone.
- Enact what organizers describe as a ‘luxury tax’ on homes over 2500 square feet to fund homeless services.
- Provide emergency shelters when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Advocates tell NBC5 the current threshold is 20 degrees.
- Fund homeless services by cutting two law enforcement officers from Ashland Police’s Payroll.
Rich Rodhe is the chair of the Ashland Human and Housing Commission. He thinks the city is supporting the homeless well. However, he also said the bold demands people are making are fitting for an unprecedented year.
“Crisis in affordable housing, the crisis with covid, the crisis with fires all of those things have meant that our homeless crisis is more serious than it’s ever been,” said Rodhe.
There is one warming shelter in Ashland that Rodhe says fits 45 people. Navickas tells NBC5 this isn’t the end the organizer said they will camp in other places around town until city leaders address their concerns.
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