City council hears homelessness proposals

The Ashland City Council listened to the recommendations put forth by the ad-hoc Homelessness Steering Committee during the council meeting Tuesday night, but ran out of time before they could vote on which proposals to implement.

The ad-hoc Homelessness Steering Committee was created by the council last April to hear input from the community on how to solve Ashland’s alleged homelessness problem. In the months since, they’ve received 33 proposals, although the committee only submitted five recommendations to the council on Tuesday.

The first proposal was for donation boxes to be installed in areas that experience heavy panhandling, encouraging passerby to put money in the box rather than give directly to the panhandler. A social services organization would then use the money to help keep people off the streets.

Another recommendation was for portable toilets to be installed in central Ashland and on both ends of town. Right now Ashland’s public toilets close at dusk to minimize vandalism, according to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department.

The last proposal was for the city to provide $24,000 for the Salvation Army to open a day center in Ashland. The center would provide laundry services and showers, and possibly a thrift store as well.

The fourth proposal, which did not require the council to take action, was a planned “listening post” to be set up by the Trinity Episcopal Church that would provide a sympathetic ear for homeless people and listen to their concerns.

The committee also requested that the council extend its existence until March 2013, in order to continue collecting community input.

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