MEDFORD, Ore. – A new temporary homeless campground opened in Medford on Monday. Volunteers for the non-profit Rogue Retreat said about 15 people had already checked in by noon. At that time, about 18 campsites were ready to go and about 14 of those had campground provided tents.
On Friday morning, city leaders and local non-profits let people take tours of the site and explained how it will work.
“COVID escalated a lot of things to happen sooner rather than later,” said the city manager. The City of Medford and Rogue Retreat are opening an emergency campground for the homeless. It is located just off Biddle Road in north Medford, feet from the Greenway, to help people already living there.
“They’ll be connected with all types of services in our community in one centralized area and they’ll have a lot of positive support in that manner,” said Nathan Olson with Addiction Recovery Center. Services that have been offered on the Greenway, like bathrooms and meals, will be moved to the campground.
“We have great nonprofit partners that can help to facilitate the operations,” said Brian Sjothun, Medford city manager. Organizers are planning on creating 25 campsites, which could one or more people, but can make room for more if necessary. The campgrounds will be a 10×10 area and they will be placed 12 feet apart. One organizer said the more they help the homeless, the more the community is helped. They hope campers will apply to get in shelters or programs like the Gospel Rescue Mission begin their case management, after being connected with resources.
“We have to try it and hopefully it works, and if it doesn’t, we’ll tweak it and figure out what will work,” said Sjothun.
Health screenings will also be provided to campers. If anyone has COVID-19 symptoms, Jackson County emergency management will have areas for homeless individuals to quarantine in.
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