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Medford considers purchasing stalled hotel-turned-homeless shelter

A motel with various construction equipment and fencing out in front. The original sign has been covered with a temporary sign that says "Rogue Retreat, restoring lives"
Rogue Retreat
The Redwood Inn in Medford before Rogue Retreat's renovations were paused in March, 2022.

On Thursday, the Medford City Council will consider purchasing the Redwood Inn from the region’s largest homeless services provider, Rogue Retreat.

The city has been a partner in the acquisition and renovation of the former Medford hotel as part of Project Turnkey, a program to turn hotels into homeless shelters.

According to a report from city staff, renovations have been paused since March because of financial problems and delays within Rogue Retreat.

“Rogue Retreat is good at providing homeless services," said Deputy City Manager Kelly Madding. "I think Project Turnkey — this Redwood Inn — was just a stretch for them in terms of being a capital facilities and renovation expert, which they’re not.”

Madding said the city is far better suited to oversee the renovations of the hotel, and that the Redwood Inn should be owned by the city as a community asset.

“It is part of the continuum of housing that the city is engaged in in actually providing ownership in," Madding said. "That ranges from the urban campground, which the city has purchased land to put that on permanently, to the navigation center.”

At least $3 million in taxpayer funding has already been invested in the project, and it’s expected up to an additional $1.4 million may be needed to finish renovations. Madding said the city will have to look at multiple sources for funding, including the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, state and federal dollars.

The goal is to finish over half of the rooms by the end of next year, but the city may open the shelter earlier as rooms are finished.

Madding said the city hasn’t decided who would operate the hotel when open, whether that’s Rogue Retreat or another homeless services provider.

Roman Battaglia is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the JPR newsroom.