MEDFORD, Ore. —The city of Medford is preparing to take a giant step forward, to combat homelessness in our community. Medford’s City Council meeting Thursday has been canceled, there simply wouldn’t have been enough council members present to take any votes.
But the city is taking the final steps, toward voting on a Navigation Center, for the local homeless. For the city of Medford, creating the Navigation Center on Market Street has been years in the making. It could soon become a hub for Medford’s homeless.
This month, the city council will vote, to potentially make that idea a reality.
“We’re just hopeful that it’s going to address some of the need that’s out there,” said City Manager Brian Sjothun.
Since 2019, the city of Medford has been working to secure the funding, acquire the property, and renovate it. Located at 685 and 691 Market Street, near the Bear Creek Greenway, the low barrier emergency shelter would be open 7 days a week, connecting individuals to health services, permanent housing, and public benefits.
“Individuals that are experiencing houselessness can go to the Navigation Center, have a health assessment, and be linked to programs and services that will help them hopefully help them break their cycle of homelessness,” said Sjothun.
Now, the city of Medford is in the process of entering into an agreement with Rogue Retreat to take on operations of the multi-million dollar facility. If approved, Rogue Retreat will manage the shelter, and also move and expand Kelly Shelter operations to the new Navigation Center.
City Manager, Brian Sjothun says he’s proud of the steps the city is taking to help the people in our community, who are most vulnerable.
“Most recently we took part in a retreat with 6 other cities in the state similar in size and many of them applauded us for what we’re doing, we’re a year or two ahead of Bend of Hillsboro,” said Sjothun.
He says the shelter will be able to accommodate between 80 and 100 people. Rogue Retreat wouldn’t be alone at the site. The Addictions Recovery Center, Access, Maslow, and several others will assist in providing different services.
“Ideally as more of those beds are created, we would love to be able to take the people who have been staying on traditionally on the Greenway and begin by diverting them to supportive shelter services that can ideally help them escape that well of homelessness,” said Matthew Vorderstrasse with Rogue Retreat.
Sjothun says the Navigation Center is in its final stages of construction. He hopes to have the project completed in the middle of July.
“There are a lot of different funding sources going toward not only the purchase and renovation but also the ongoing operations,” said Sjothun.
The city will vote to either approve, modify or deny the agreement with Rogue Retreat. The council will vote on the matter, two weeks from tonight on June 16th.