As temperatures drop, the city of Grants Pass is again trying to establish a warming center for people who are homeless. But city officials have made clear that they can’t pay for it.
A warming center is a temporary emergency shelter that opens during dangerously cold weather.
The last time Grants Pass had a warming center, it was run by a church until its volunteer base ran too thin to keep it afloat. That was five years ago.
Last year, another church tried to open a center, but its parishioners ultimately rejected the idea.
Still, city councilors say they’re hoping another church will step up.
“We don't have the money to just open a warming center,” Grants Pass councilor Valerie Lovelace says. “If you look around Medford, they’re supporting a structured one which we’re trying to emulate, but most places, it’s the churches that come together.”
Instead, Lovelace says the city is facilitating conversations between nonprofit and religious organizations to find a physical location that could house a warming center. Then the city could apply for state and federal funds to run it.
The city also doesn’t have a non-religious homeless shelter where people can sleep overnight. It’s currently facing a lawsuit alleging its anti-camping ordinance unfairly punishes people who are homeless.
There were more than 600 homeless people in Grants Pass in the winter of 2017, according to the latest state data.