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Pop-Up Diner Provides Safe Warming Space In Medford

Judi's Midnight Diner / Siskiyou Rising Tide

In Medford, like many other cities, there’s virtually no place for homeless people to legally go when the weather turns cold. In response, a Jackson County-based activist group has established a pop-up warming center for homeless people in the area.

A Southern Oregon activist group has started a pop-up warming center called Judi’s Midnight Diner. It’s a small trailer and a heated three-walled tent with food, coffee and chairs.

Derek DeForest is a volunteer with the center. He says that because the city hasn’t opened a warming center, the group felt the need to take direct action to help people who are suffering.

“Unfortunately, we’ve just seen that the city hasn’t been able to respond to the needs of the people living out here on the streets," says DeForest. "But at a grassroots community level, there’s a lot of people willing to help out and lend a hand. We’ve seen a need and said, ‘okay, we can do that. We can figure it out.’”

Judi's Midnight Diner is usually set up in a parking lot somewhere around downtown Medford.

DeForest says that what he calls the criminalization of homelessness in Medford, along with displacement from wildfires, makes this project especially important.

"We’ve talked a lot in the last year about alternatives to the war on the poor," he says. "I think a lot of it is just communities coming together and saying, ‘we have the skills, we have the resources,’ or, ‘we’re willing to learn. We’re willing to work this out together,’ and we can create what we need.”

Judi’s Midnight Diner is usually set up four nights a week at around 9pm, but more often if the weather is especially cold.