ASHLAND, Ore. — The City of Ashland is looking at ways to serve homeless families and children after receiving criticism for not allowing them into their homeless shelter. In order to do that they’ve announced a new emergency fund.
The city works with a number of religious institutions and non-profits to make sure people aren’t left out in the cold. At the United Methodist Church, everyone is invited to receive a warm meal – no exceptions. But overnight stays are more complicated.
According to city councilors, there are no shelters in Ashland that are equipped to safely handle children and families. Usually those require separate rooms to keep them safe from other residents.
The emergency fund can be used to transport families to the nearest shelters that can accept them in Medford. It could even be used to pay for a motel room if all other options fail.
One mother in Ashland described the challenges of raising a newborn child without a home and without support: “I was outside more than I was inside. After a while you just get so used to the fresh air, so used to the cold, you become numb to it. It just doesn’t even phase you anymore.”
The problem, according to some involved in the program, is that the city doesn’t know how many families will need the support. ACCESS and OHRA are planning to reach out to families that haven’t come forward in order to measure that need.
They say right now they’re raising only a couple thousand dollars for the emergency fund, but they don’t have an estimate for how much it could cost if demand rises.