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Homeless Resources Remain Thin Following Medford Camp Eviction

April Ehrlich/JPR
A collection of about 70 tents was located at Hawthorne Park in Medford following wildfires that displaced thousands of people.

When Medford police removed a homeless camp at Hawthorne Park on Tuesday, dozens of people had to find somewhere else to go. With much of the Bear Creek Greenway burned and several thousand people newly displaced by the Almeda Fire, there are limited options.

Maig Tinnin is a Medford resident who has been volunteering with people living on the greenway since the pandemic started. She says many are still camping outside since Tuesday’s eviction because of barriers to getting into shelters and a lack of space.

“There’s a handful of people that may have been able to access some of the resources. They were just so full that it was a really limited number of people,” Tinnin says.

The non-profit Rogue Retreat runs a variety of programs for homeless people in the area, including a temporary campground in Medford and the Kelly Shelter.

Rogue Retreat Development Director Matthew Vorderstrasse says the number of people requesting services has nearly tripled since the fire and the group's shelters are currently at capacity.

In spite of the new demand there are some options, according to Lt. Trevor Arnold, head of the Medford Police Department’s Livability Team.

“Anyone who was displaced by the fire, as far as I understand, is still welcome out at the [Jackson County] Expo,” Arnold says. “If there were people that were displaced by the fire that’s probably the best option.”

Arnold says there are also frequent shelter options at the Medford Gospel Mission.

Erik Neumann is the interim news director at Jefferson Public Radio. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.