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City Council Considers Legality of Sleeping in Cars

Currently, it is illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles within the City of Medford. Right now, the City is considering a change to that ordinance.

Posted: Feb. 6, 2019 11:42 PM
Updated: Feb. 7, 2019 10:14 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. --  This week, Southern Oregon has seen a stretch of cold weather — with temperatures dipping into the low twenties in the Rogue Valley. Some people don't have a place warm to sleep at night.

"We've been having a lot of requests for blankets a lot of requests for sleeping bags," said Jason Houk, an organizer with Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice.

The City of Medford is looking at changing one of their laws to help those people without a warm place. Right now it is illegal to park your car and sleep anywhere in the city limits. The rule change, if adopted, would allow churches to house people living in their cars overnight.

"A lot of people, they lost everything but still have their car," said Chad McComas, Executive Director at Rogue Retreat.

McComas also works with the Kelly Shelter in Medford.

"This would allow those people who are constantly breaking the law to have a safe place to be where they are not going to break the law," McComas said.

There are some restrictions that go with this new law: only three cars per church parking lot. Bathrooms are required, as well as a hand-washing station. McComas told NewsWatch 12 that these requirements make it difficult for churches to accomodate people that they are willing to help.

"It might be that some churches will not have the staffing to be able to do that," McComas said.

In Ashland, emergency warming shelters are almost always full — just like they are in Medford. Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice is trying to help the problem by giving out blankets, coats and sleeping bags. The problem is, they only have one sleeping bag left tonight and blankets are also low.

"We are down to our last little bit of blankets," Houk said.

The group said that it is in desperate need of donations to help people who don't have a car to sleep in or a warm place for the night. If you would like to make a donation you can drop them off at 330 East Hersey St. building number 9 in Ashland. You can also bring them to Pioneer Hall. Their address is 73 Winburn Way, Ashland. 

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