Ashland OKs winter homeless shelter

Ashland's successful trial run at a once-a-week homeless shelter last winter prompted the City Council to approve the program for another season.

The council voted last week to open a city building as a homeless shelter one night per week from November through April 2014. It also voted to allow service animals as defined by law.

Last season's trial shelter was hastily approved in January and ran through April in city-owned Pioneer Hall. It was staffed by volunteers from the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Temple Emek Shalom.

"I'm glad we're dealing with this now," said Councilor Greg Lemhouse, adding that the volunteers did a great job in the past and the shelter nights went well.

Volunteers from the two congregations said they are looking forward to cooperating with the city again on a shelter night.

On average, 13 people stayed at Pioneer Hall on shelter nights, according to a report from the Ashland Homelessness Steering Committee. Animals were not allowed.

The council voted to allow service animals this time around, and asked city staff members to gather information for how pets in general might be allowed to stay at the shelter with their owners. A decision on whether to allow pets will come at a future meeting.

Meanwhile, First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church plan to again offer shelter nights once a week. Homeless people will be able to find overnight shelter three nights per week in Ashland because of the combined efforts of the city and faith groups.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or by email at

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