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Rogue Retreat forges ahead with shelter

A new year-round shelter in downtown Medford will more than double the number of homeless residents who will have the opportunity to sleep indoors and work toward permanent housing. That’s good news for them and for the community. Now the nonprofit agency Rogue Retreat has to come up with the money to operate the new facility.

ACCESS Inc. is contributing by purchasing the building — the former Compass House drop-in center for the mentally ill at 332 Sixth St. — and paying for remodeling, including a sprinkler system. That’s a major contribution, totaling more than $1 million.

Rogue Retreat will lease the premises from ACCESS for $2,500 a month. On top of the lease payments, the agency will hire staff to provide counseling, mental health evaluation and drug treatment. The goal is to help shelter residents make the transition into permanent housing.

Rogue Retreat also operates Hope Village, a tiny house development that is home to 31 people. The 54 beds in the new shelter will mean 85 people will have been moved off the streets.

That won’t end homelessness by any stretch — the annual count conducted in January reported 712 unhoused people countywide. But every effort to take people in reduces the number camping out or living in vehicles.

Medford police are supportive of the new venture, and Police Chief Scott Clauson says he’s glad Rogue Retreat is behind it, because the agency has experience from running the winter shelter in the basement of First United Methodist Church.

Rogue Retreat director Chad McComas acknowledges the challenge of raising the funds necessary to pay the staff and cover the lease. The cost comes out to nearly $50 a day per bed.

Hope Village residents pay monthly rent, and the same should happen at the new shelter, especially for those residents who have jobs. State grant funding is available as well, McComas says.

Community groups looking for opportunities to contribute should consider helping to underwrite this venture.

McComas and his organization have demonstrated the ability to make projects like Hope Village and the Kelly Shelter work, and we are confident they will succeed in this new undertaking as well. Congratulations to all involved for their vision and their commitment to helping more of the community’s homeless population work toward self-sufficiency.

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