AllCare report sheds light on Southern Oregon’s homeless issue

MEDFORD, Ore. – A new report from AllCare Health believes to have gotten to the root of the homeless problem in Southern Oregon.

“I don’t think anyone believes it’s right or appropriate for anyone to live their existence in a tent.”

Julie Akins is a journalist as well as the senior housing director at AllCare Health.

Her recent report titled Finding Home: A True Story of Life Outside aimed to show the reality of the homeless issues in Jackson, Josephine, and Curry Counties.

“The biggest barrier for people facing homelessness is affordable housing. Period full stop.”

Akins says this affordable housing shortage is made even more prevalent in rural communities of Southern Oregon.

“It’s really a math issue isn’t it?” Akins said. “When there’s a very small percentage of vacant units and they cost a lot of money, working people can’t afford them and therefore they wind up in homelessness.”

A statement echoed by some of the homeless in Medford.

“It costs more to live out here and things get taken constantly be it your own people or other organizations,” said one homeless woman. “You spend more money; you need this, that again and then you’re broke three to five days into the month.”

Rebecca says she has been homeless for about eight years. She says it’s not easy for people experiencing homelessness to get housing, even for those with income coming in.

“Paying rent somewhere they want deposits you know then you got to be without everything all month,” she said.

Akins’ report shows while services do exist to help people experiencing homelessness, they aren’t always easy for people to access.

“In rural communities like Jackson, Josephine, and Curry Counties, what we see is that people are unhoused and they’re also further from services,” Akins explained. “There are fewer services available to those people.”

Rogue Retreat is a community service organization based out of Jackson County. Sam Engel, executive director for the organization, said the housing shortage has been an issue for a long time only made worse by the 2020 Almeda Fire.

“We are behind in terms of housing production and housing availability,” Engel said. “If you couple that with the high cost of living it’s very difficult for people to make ends meet.”

Engel says one positive is the community’s willingness to help solve the homeless and housing problem in the area.

“One of the things that I’ve seen as being very positive is the community seems to be willing to embrace solutions – and progressive solutions – to helping people move out of homelessness.”

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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