Photo by Jamie Lusch

Oregon Homelessness Crisis

Compared to other parts of the world, and other cities, Ashland does not hold a serious homelessness issue. Oregon as a whole faces a homelessness crisis that is fueled by housing shortages, Covid 19, and drug addiction. Recently in Ashland a small group has been setting up camp in popular public places around town. These camps can be found at places such as Triangle Park, the downtown plaza, or gateway island. 

Members of these campsites have signs that read; “Hunting Humans for Sleeping is Criminal ”, “I’m not camping, I am surviving”, or “Our Childhood Brought Us Here”. 

These campers state that they don’t feel comfortable at shelters. They let interviewers know that shelters often feel like prisons. They relay that fights often break out and it is not a good environment to be in, they would rather camp here than sleep in a bed there.

Although there are controversial opinions about shelters they may have been to in the past, there are so many resources in the area for those in need. OHRA Community Resource Center right here in Ashland is just one of the many organizations that are built around helping those in need. OHRA states that “anyone in need can walk in the door and meet with a resource navigator.” 

Along with OHRA, there is Rouge Retreat which is another organization built around “helping people restore their lives”. Rouge Retreat has the capacity to help 500-plus people in Jackson County. Rouge Retreat has 8 different sights including Hope Village which is in Medford. You can find out more about Rouge Retreat here:

Maslow Project, and Hearts With a Mission, are other great resources within the area for those who are in need. 

On January 30th the Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’ Meara sat in on a town hall meeting to hear the opinions of the public on the issue. Within this meeting, he states that “There is a law on the books, the Ashland Muni Code, that prohibits people from camping on any public property, including parks, streets, of sidewalks, ect. That law remains on the books. However, there is a new state law that is going to come into play in June or July that also impacts our ability to enforce the camping law.” 

The Ashland Police Chief goes on to explain that they offer the same resources that I have listed above to these campers that are camping in popular public places and they state that they don’t want to do that. They believe it is their right to live this way. 

Recently there has been a new bill in Oregon that aims to give the homeless $1,000 monthly. There will be a trial program in place and if that proves to be successful in helping the homeless into secure households, they will begin to administer the funding to those experiencing homelessness, those who are at risk of becoming homeless, as well as those who are in need earring at or below 60% of the median income in the area. This new bill will begin with 25 million dollars to be distributed to those in need every month. 

There was a similar bill passed in Vancouver Canada, where homeless individuals were given 7,500 and the program proved to be successful in moving the participants into stable living situations.

The individuals setting up camp here in Ashland Oregon are protesting to make a stance. They want to be seen and heard, and it has been causing a lot of controversy and complaints amongst the citizens of Ashland. 

If you are interested in making a difference, feel free to look into any of the resources listed within this article and see how you can help the homelessness crisis in Oregon.

Leave a Reply