ASHLAND, Ore. — As overnight temperatures continue to drop, an organization says that it is preparing to open an emergency winter shelter in Ashland. Options for Helping Residents of Ashland announced on Monday that the shelter will open Sunday, November 1, in Calvin Hall of the First Presbyterian Church.
The OHRA shelter will not be an overnight warming shelter for anyone who comes by — people who need a bed at the shelter will need to sign up for an intake appointment at the organization's Community Resource Center.
“This is not a drop-in shelter, rather it is a place for 45 individuals to have a safe, warm place to sleep every night for five months,” said Cass Sinclair, senior director of OHRA Programs and Services.
Those 45 people will have the same bed every night, with a meal provided by faith-based organizations and Peace House. OHRA "navigators" will also be on-hand to help people find housing options.
"In the last season’s shelter, 28 shelter guests found permanent homes with the assistance of OHRA navigators, also known as case workers," the organization said in a statement. "Navigators will be at the shelter every morning and evening in addition to at the resource center weekdays."
OHRA says that registration helps ensure that highest-risk members of the homeless community receive priority due to the limitations on shelter size.
This shelter used to be at the church on East Main Street, but OHRA is leasing Calvin Hall this year in order to meet CDC distancing guidelines.
“This is a much larger space, which we are renovating to make even safer. It also offers a commercial kitchen for our food volunteers to safely prepare a nightly meal for our guests,” Sinclair said.
The OHRA Emergency Winter Shelter will be open every day from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Those looking for a place to stay will need to sign up for an intake assessment by making an appointment at the resource center, located at 611 Siskiyou Boulevard, Unit 4, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — or call 541-631-2235.
The shelter is designed to serve the highest risk adults who are over age 18. Younger people needing shelter will be referred to the Maslow Project.
“Costs of shelter operations have increased greatly due to spacing, separation and sanitizing precautions we are taking because of COVID," said Sinclair. "We have the additional expense of paying overnight staff as most of our volunteers are at 'at risk' ages, and we believe they should stay home and safe during this pandemic. We want to thank all former shelter volunteers for all the past evenings they have committed to helping their homeless neighbors. We also thank the faith community and Peace House for preparing meals for the guests in past seasons as well as this one.
“We want all our supporters to know that we will be striving our hardest to help shelter guests find a pathway from crisis to stability. That is our commitment.”