‘Project Turnkey’ provides more funds for housing in Medford, Klamath Falls

MEDFORD, Ore. — After hundreds of people were displaced by the September fires, hope and housing is on the way. The city of Medford and Rogue Retreat received over $2.5 million to help displaced southern Oregonians with housing.

Just a little over a month after Ashland received the first ‘Project Turnkey’ grant, Medford is following close behind with the Redwood Inn Motel. “We’ll be working with them to remove the obstacles,” said executive director of Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (AURA), Michelle Arellano.

In early February, AURA received a ‘Project Turnkey’ grant of $4.2 million. “The long term goal is to move into permanent housing,” said Arellano. Now the city of Medford, along with the nonprofit Rogue Retreat, are following in their footsteps.

“The entire west coast is in a housing shortage, not just Medford. Having funds available from the e-board for this has been great,” said Medford city manager, Brian Sjothun. The city says the over $2.5 million in funds will purchase and transform the Redwood Inn, a 47-room motel on Riverside Avenue in Medford.

“There was a lot of moving parts that had been in place since November and so I’m just elated that we’re able to get to this point,” said Sjothun.  All rooms will be retrofitted with a kitchenette. Priority will be given to people displaced by the Almeda Fire, as well as those vulnerable to COVID-19 who need to isolate. The city manager says the Redwood Inn should be move-in ready by June.

“You know a lot of folks say, ‘City of Medford, what are you doing to help address the housing shortages?'” We’re really doing a lot, a lot of it is still behind the scenes and will be coming in the next 6 to 9 months,” said Sjothun.

Klamath County also received a Turnkey grant. It will be using the almost $1.9 million to purchase a motel and RV park along Highway 97. Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot said, “immediately we have transitional housing for folks. We’re trying to give that hand up and reintegrate them into the community.” Both Klamath County and Medford say these shelters won’t go away after the pandemic.

“There’s a big need for transitional housing, to get themselves settled while we work on permanent housing for them,” said Commissioner DeGroot. In the long term, these shelters can provide transitional housing to a variety of people in different situations. “We’ve already discussions about this being transitional housing. Whether its people leaving jail or those that are living along the Greenway that are seeking services, we can have a place for them to go and get the treatment they so need,” said Sjothun.

The city manager said the Medford Urban Renewal Board or MURA, is having a meeting on Thursday in hopes of securing money for the renovation of the Redwood Inn.

Madison LaBerge is the anchor of NBC5 News Weekends at 6 and 11. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Madison is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She loves living in the Pacific Northwest. She can't get over "how green everything is!" When Madison is not at work, she looks for new and exciting cooking recipes and explores Southern Oregon. Feel free to send her story ideas or the address of your favorite Mexican food restaurant!
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