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Space for residents’ dogs planned at Ashland homeless shelter

Cass Sinclair, former director of OHRA, passes out food to a homeless man in Ashland in this file photo. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

Ashland’s newest and largest homeless shelter is building an addition for residents’ most treasured emotional support system — their dogs.

Volunteers from Rogue Credit Union and some shelter residents, themselves, will spend the morning of Oct. 1 building the new enclosure at 2350 Ashland St., the site of Options for Helping Residents of Ashland.

The nonprofit Street Dog Project will foot the bill for the work, according to a press release sent by OHRA. Street Dog also will be on site for the event, offering education, outreach, pet supplies and dog food as part of their mission to improve the quality of life for dogs of the unhoused.

“For people experiencing homelessness, pets are best friends, even family. Dogs offer unconditional and nonjudgmental love and are a great comfort to people in crisis,” said Cass Sinclair, executive director of OHRA, in the press release.

“Part of providing ‘low-barrier’ shelter means lowering barriers to entry. Allowing folks to bring their pets is just one way that we lower those barriers,” she said.

Still under construction, the OHRA facility — as recently at 2021 — was a Super 8 Motel. The shelter bought and began remodeling the former motel with funding from Project Turnkey — a COVID-19-initiated program to help nonprofits overcome social distancing restrictions that made traditional shelters no longer operable during the pandemic.

Instead, the project made it possible for nonprofits to transform older hotels into new shelters for homeless people — with individual rooms.

OHRA opened during construction and continues to offer services while remodeling the former motel. Services are not limited to those seeking shelter, but include navigators to help with sign-ups for benefits like food stamps, social security or veterans benefits, utility assistance, mental health services, connection to free or low cost medical care and other services.

To learn more about OHRA, see helpingashland.org/

For more information on the Street Dog Project, see streetdogproject.com.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.