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Ashland's first 24-hour homeless shelter looks to close funding gap

Roman Battaglia
Jefferson Public Radio
The OHRA team cuts the ribbon celebrating the grand opening of the OHRA center.

Ashland's first 24-hour homeless shelter is finalizing renovations this summer. Organizers want to ensure its stability by raising the money they need.

Options for Helping Residents of Ashland, or OHRA, celebrated the final stretch towards fully opening its year-round homeless shelter. The former Super 8 Motel just off I-5 needed major renovations to bring the facility up to code and provide an adequate space for center staff.

On Thursday, OHRA Development Director Michelle Arellano said the team has grown from a handful of volunteers to 36 staff working round-the-clock.

“The transformation that has taken place is incredible but it also takes phenomenal staff and phenomenal infrastructure," Arellano said.

Roman Battaglia
Jefferson Public Radio
A room inside the OHRA Center. Hotel-style homeless shelters provide more safety and privacy then open-floor shelters.

Once finished, the motel will be able to house up to 72 people. It will also host a resource center, space for community groups and a small health clinic.

Quinn Harding is a navigator at OHRA, helping residents at their shelter in Ashland.

“Growing up in Ashland you walk past a lot of people who are just needing some help," Harding said. "And if you just say 'hi' I think you can find out they have a whole story behind their lives.”

OHRA started in 2012 as a group of volunteers. To reflect the center’s growing need to help at-risk residents throughout Jackson County, the non-profit is changing its name to Opportunities for Housing, Resources and Assistance.

OHRA is starting a public fundraiser to finish the renovations and support ongoing operations and staffing needs. They’ve already raised $1 million of the $2.5 million needed.

Renovations on the former motel are expected to be finished by the end of the summer.