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Grants Pass Lacks Warming Center, But That Could Change


Temperatures are dipping into the low thirties in Southern Oregon, but many places don’t have warming centers where homeless people can find respite from cold. A member of a church in Grants Pass is trying to change that for his city.

Grants Pass doesn’t have an easily accessible homeless shelter. It also doesn’t have a warming center where people can seek temporary shelter from the cold.

Larry Sample manages community services at the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He plans on establishing a warming center in the church’s lower levels.

He recalls the moment he realized the city needed something.

“About a month or two ago, when it was real cold, I found a guy sleeping out on our front porch,” he said. “Cutoffs, no socks, no gloves. Just him and his dog and he was freezing to death.”

Sample has cleared many of the steps he needs to take to get the project going; he got approval from the church’s board of directors, and he ran the idea through the city. Only one step remains: he has to get general approval from the church’s congregation. He plans to present the church’s plans at a service in early January. He’s worried not everyone will like the idea of a warming center in the lower levels of the church.

“You know, there’s a lot of different opinions of people when it comes to the homeless,” he said. “There’s people that don’t like them — don’t want them around — and then there’s people like me, who do anything they can to help them.”

About 650 people are considered homeless in Josephine County, according to Oregon Housing and Community Services data from last year. About 91 percent of those people don’t have a shelter to stay in.

April Ehrlich is JPR content partner at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Prior to joining OPB, she was a regional reporter at Jefferson Public Radio where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.