Year-long shelter considered for Medford

MEDFORD, Ore. — Two of the biggest organizations in the Rogue Valley that help those struggling with homelessness are working together to create the first low barrier year-round shelter in Jackson County.

Low barrier means that anyone can stay in the shelter without having to remain sober. Rogue Retreat says they do this so they can get the person in a stable environment first, and then get them the help they need.

The Kelly Shelter was open for four months this winter season but just closed their doors on Sunday.

“We know that we need to have a full-time shelter, and we’ve desired to have one and we’ve been working behind the scenes,” Chad McComas, Rogue Retreat, said. “Access has been our main supporter through this last three years.”

The two are partnering together to work out a year-long shelter so that they don’t have to put people back out on the streets, once the shelter closes.

“To have to close and say, ‘goodbye, you’re out on the streets’, it doesn’t feel good,” McComas said. “We know we don’t want to have to do that again.”

This new shelter would replace the current Kelly Shelter and would sleep 50 people.

“50 people off the streets is a big deal.”

The idea behind the year-long shelter is if they can keep people off the streets longer, that gives the organizations more time to help people struggling, get back on their feet.

“A year-round shelter would enable people to stay longer while they’re becoming self-sufficient and then they would not be re-released into homelessness, they can be placed into permanent housing,” Constance Wilkerson, Continuum of Care, said.

The shelter is just in the preliminary stages. Rogue Retreat and Access weren’t able to release the details on the location just yet but said it will benefit the community, no matter where its located.

“It shouldn’t affect the neighborhood, in fact, it should actually help the neighborhood because we’re getting people off the streets,” McComas said.

The organizations hope to have the new shelter up and running in the fall.

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