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ICCA in market for a new home

It&

s not closing. It&

s not leaving Ashland. The phone was only disconnected temporarily because of a problem with the service provider.

Actually, Interfaith Care Community of Ashland is just moving to a new, yet-to-be-announced house in early 2006.

&

We made a commitment to Ashland a long time ago, and we&

re not leaving,&

said Sharon Schreiber, the director of the Ashland and Medford Interfaith Care Communities.

The small cottage at 144 N. Second St. that has housed the nonprofit organization since 1996 was put on the market FOR $460,000 about six weeks ago and ICCA leaders have been negotiating the purchase of a house elsewhere in the city that will be better suited to their needs.

&

The place we&

ve found will actually work better for us in the long run,&

Schreiber said. &

They&

re finding they need more space than they have.&

In August, the program served 1,052 people, including 520 homeless people and 153 veterans.

&

It&

s just real convenient,&

said Talent resident Gary Beamer, who has volunteered at ICCA since 2001. &

They like hanging around. ... It&

s walking distance to a lot of things.&

— — Rory H., left, and Jef Gold, right, may hAve to — travel farther for food and other other essentials when the ICCA leaves — its building.

ICCA provides an address, telephone and answering service for homeless people. Volunteers offer help with resumes and job hunting, and the Ashland Emergency Food Bank and other donors feed the hungry.

Those efforts will continue at the new ICCA site &

which may be near Walker Avenue and Siskiyou Boulevard, according to Beamer &

and may be extended to include transitional housing for women and children.

&

We&

ll still do the resource,&

ICCA house manager Jean Hallinan said, adding she wasn&

t sure what other assistance may be added at the new house.

The current ICCA location is open from 9 a.m. to — p.m. Monday through Friday and, although it receives a lot of foot traffic, people are not allowed to stay the night.

Unwelcome

But the program, which has become a resource center for nearly 20 local congregations to direct their efforts to help those less fortunate, has also weathered years of turmoil with neighbors.

Eight current and former neighbors of the day-use shelter filed a civil lawsuit against the organization in August 2004, claiming the ICCA eroded tourism, lowered land values and decreased residents&

enjoyment of their property.

&

They&

ve been nothing but trouble,&

said one former neighbor, who wanted to remain anonymous because she feared ICCA clients might harm her.

Objections from neighbors were factors in the decision to seek a new site for ICCA, although it was not the main motivation, according to ICCA officials.

&

[It was] to some extent, but I think it&

s only some of the neighbors,&

Schreiber said. &

I think the thing people are concerned with is not reality but, in their imagination, what could happen.&

Neighbors allege the ICCA clients camp on their property, deal drugs, smoke marijuana, hang around before and after the resource center is open and, at least once, used a hot tub in the neighborhood to bathe. Some claim they&

ve been followed and threatened by ICCA clients.

&

It&

s unproved and it&

s just not based on the truth,&

Hallinan said. &

Most of the people who come here are looking for help.&

Hallinan admits she has called the police for help controlling situations inside the center from time to time, but says there&

s never been a safety concern for the neighborhood. Police haven&

t reported serious problems on or around the ICCA property to Schreiber.

&

As far as I know, our record is clean,&

Hallinan said.

Most neighbors have moved out since the ICCA received its conditional use permit from the city in 1998 and one, who recently bought the house next-door to the ICCA, built a fence to keep people off of his property.

&

I would hope that people look at us as an asset to the community, not a detriment,&

Schreiber said. &

We have been a safety net for many, many people in the community.&

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 3019 or jsquires@dailytidings.com.