MEDFORD, Ore. -- The City Council had its first chance to review and provide feedback on a draft of the Homeless System Action Plan at Thursday night's study session. You can read the full report by clicking here.
The plan was created to identify goals and actions based on a professional assessment of the community’s current homeless crisis response system.
In January, the City hired Lesar Development Consultants to perform in-depth research on why the City is so vulnerable to homelessness. The organization works with cities, big and small, all over the country to address homelessness and housing issues.
Consultant Kris Kuntz said the City of Medford lacks a lot of resources to address homelessness.
However, Kuntz said the City has seen some positive changes over the last year like the re-building of the Continuum of Care Program, which is designed to fight homelessness.
"I would say as far as resources go, sure there are some deficiencies there, but you also have some really cool and amazing opportunities at the Continuum level where regional leadership has come together across sectors to say we're going to work together on this and we're here to solve the problem," Kuntz said.
As part of the in-depth research, Lesar, along with city staff, toured homeless camps, held listening sessions, looked at data, and met with 36 organizations and more than 100 stakeholders across the region. The study also looked into housing, mental illness and substance abuse.
Angela Durant, City of Medford Principal Planner, said the study shows that in order to combat the complex issue, many agencies need to work together.
"Pulling those resources together and collaborating a little bit better in what you could call a funder's collaborative or just a convening of the agencies that have the resources would be very impactful," Durant said.
The study lays out five main goals:
- Increase affordable and supportive housing
- Increase leadership, collaboration and funding
- Address unsheltered homelessness and encampments
- Increase temporary housing programs and successful placements
- Increase diversion and prevention strategies
The City Council will continue to discuss the draft of the plan before possibly moving forward with adopting it.