April Ehrlich | JPR News

Snow is billowing across the Rogue Valley and temperatures are predicted to dip into the 20s this week. So, where can you go if you need a warm place to sleep? The answer isn’t easy to find. 

Rogue Retreat

What started as a winter emergency shelter for homeless people in Medford has become a much more imposing presence.  The Kelly Shelter opened its doors recently, providing regular shelter space for 54 people in bunk beds, an upgrade from the church basement with mats on the floor of the original shelter. 

ACCESS, Inc. bought the building and renovated it, and Rogue Retreat will run the shelter, geared toward finding permanent homes for its short-term resident.

Wikimedia Commons

Camping in public spaces is already illegal within the city of Redding. The city’s mayor wants to further restrict people from sleeping in the streets by requiring them to stay at a shelter.

Lulu Vision

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.


People living on the streets sometimes have constant companions: dogs and even cats.  Pets living on the streets face issues their indoors counterparts do not, just as people without houses do. 

The Street Dog Project in the Rogue Valley started up to pay some attention to the dogs of homeless people.  The project has a number of goals, including encouraging the spaying and neutering of street dogs. 


We've seen them in our region: young, seemingly able-bodied people who are living on the streets, panhandling and scrounging a living.

Our names for them -- travelers, hobby homeless, street kids -- are a simplistic reaction to a complex societal phenomenon.

Journalist Vivian Ho first encountered street kids as a crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, where she covered the trial of three street kids accused of a brutal double murder in the Bay Area.

She takes a broader look at the street culture and its attraction for young people in the book Those Who Wander: America’s Lost Street Kids

Eethove Jeffrey Maiten, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6799026

Education may be a key to getting out of poverty, but it's not a magic key.  Even college students report instability in their housing situations, forcing them to car-camp or couch-surf or look for alternative places to sleep. 

College of the Redwoods in Eureka took several steps in the last academic year to find quarters for COR students.  We get an update on how well those programs worked and what COR envisions for the coming academic year. 

Jackson County Continuum of Care

The wintertime homeless counts around the country get a lot of scrutiny before they get released. 

The count for Jackson County recently saw the light of day, and it indicates a slight lowering of the homeless population (732 to 712), with particular progress among homeless veterans. 

But there's still plenty of work ahead for the Jackson County Continuum of Care and all of its affiliated agencies and organizations. 


Youth Rising in Klamath Falls has always been about supporting young people in the community with a variety of needs.  And now it plans to address the issue of youth homelessness. 

YR envisions an expansion of its services, including the creation of emergency shelter facilities for young people.  And it's already beyond vision, with YR buying the old Gospel Mission in Klamath Falls. 


People who don't have much money can have their lives turned upside-down by a health crisis.  California's Whole Person Care program identifies people who receive Medi-Cal (medicaid) benefits who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and provides additional attention and benefits to them. 

Shasta County is one of the areas participating in the Whole Person Care pilot program. 

Lulu Vision

The actual counting is done... now comes the analysis.  Volunteers and staff from several agencies counted the homeless people in Jackson County on January 21st, the annual point-in-time (PIT) survey. 

The hard numbers will not be released in official form for many months; 2018's numbers were noticeably higher than 2017's. 

Access, Inc. is one of the partner agencies, as is the Continuum of Care in Jackson County. 

Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia

It's hard enough being homeless.  But there are even electronically indignities, like not keeping up with the way the world communicates now. 

A University of California-San Francisco study found that older homeless adults are at the bottom of the digital divide: they have older phones and plans that assign them a new phone number with any upgrades. So the already-existing isolation can be exacerbated. 

lostcoastoutpost.com / Oliver Cory

They show up in the news all the time: events in which police and/or sanitation workers come to a homeless camp and clear the place out, people and all. 

There's compassion for the people who don't have permanent homes, but what about the people who do, and not far away?  It's a tricky situation, one we explore in this discussion. 

Rogue Retreat helps homeless people find homes; Julie Akins covers homeless issues as a journalist, works to create spaces for homeless people, and recently joined the Ashland City Council. 


The latest survey results on homeless students in Oregon produced some relief, but not much.  While there are fewer students reporting being homeless than in previous years, it's still a high number: nearly 22,000. 

And worse for Southern Oregon, Medford is right up near the top, with more homeless students than the city of Portland.  Homelessness is just one of the issues targeted by the Rogue Action Center, and the prime concern of the Maslow Project

Rogue Retreat

Rogue Retreat has several programs in place to get people living on the streets into housing.  And it recently got approval from the City of Medford to expand Hope Village, its tiny house community. 

To help raise awareness and money, former Hope Village residents and volunteers are spending a night each in one of the tiny houses, parked at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford.  The Overnight Challenge runs through October. 


College is expensive, and housing is tight in much of the country.  So it should not be much of a surprise to learn that some students are technically homeless while they go to college. 

A study released earlier this year showed that across the California State University system, more than 10% of students were at risk of homelessness at some point in the academic year, and another 41% experienced food insecurity. 

Jennifer Maguire at Humboldt State and Rashida Crutchfield at Long Beach State joined forces for the study.  They join us to lay out some of the facts. 

Ian Poellet, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27045930

Medford is one of many cities dealing with rising numbers of people living on the streets.  And along with them come rising complaints about trash and a general decline in cleanliness downtown. 

Lulu Vision

You see an orchestra assemble, and you expect to hear a piece like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, or a prelude, partita, or concerto. 

But Friday night, July 27, the Britt Orchestra will perform a new piece called simply emergency shelter intake form.  The lack of capitals is intentional. 

The piece, by Gabriel Kahane, is meant to focus attention on housing insecurity in the region. 


It's a natural fit, for churches to help the homeless population. 

The founders and leaders of most major religions speak with compassion about caring for people down on their luck. 

Ashland churches are making moves to increase the quantity and quality of the community's offerings for homeless people. 

Rev. Dan Fowler from the First Presbyterian Church visits, along with Ken Gudger, president of Options for Helping Residents of Ashland


Too many people already spend nights in their cars because they don't have any other place to sleep.  But some other vehicles, with a little work, can be comfy places to spend some time. 

Ashland-based Forever Homes, Vehicles for Change plans to convert retired school buses to new uses as temporary homes for homeless people. 

FH,VFC leaders envision both short- and longer-term modifications for the big yellow buses.