The Unhoused deserve long-term, sustainable solutions. Now.
(Image: Daily Record)
The Homelessness Task Force estimates there are about 150 people currently experiencing houselessness in Ashland, 20 of whom are teenagers. That is an unacceptable number of people to be unhoused in a town as small and affluent as ours. Issues affecting the unhoused in Ashland are and have been a priority for me.
As a volunteer with the city’s Housing and Human Services Commission, I’ve made recommendations to the City Council for addressing some of our housing and service needs. But Commission recommendations are about possible actions in the future. Houselessness is hurting people today. Making a real difference requires taking both immediate and long-lasting action. As a Councilor, I will advocate for innovative action by the City to address houselessness . When we let go of limiting ideas and take bold action, we see real results.
For example, the City of Ashland stepped up during this pandemic to help fund hotel rooms for many unhoused people. We’ve been able to do more than we imagined during these times, and that shines a light on what the CIty can continue to do in the future. However, government can’t solve this problem on its own. The City needs community partners and volunteers. We are fortunate to have a very caring community and services such as Options for Helping Residents of Ashland, ACCESS, and the United Way of Jackson County to help out.
Right now, according to Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice, volunteers are serving between 100 and 120 meals a day, and helping people find adequate medical care or recovery programs. These are efforts we can support and continue long past the time of COVID-19. The pandemic has shown us that Ashland is stronger and more creative than we knew. Post-pandemic, I’m looking forward to sustained action, through public-private partnership, to house and feed the most vulnerable members of our community.