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Ashland emergency homeless shelter opens tonight

With low temperatures expected around 20 degrees this weekend, emergency shelters will be offered at tonight and Saturday night, Nov. 27 and 28, at Calvin Hall at First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, 1615 Clark Ave. 

Those in need of shelter overnight can enter between 7:30 and 9 p.m., and must leave by 8 a.m. Families are welcome, and well-behaved pets are allowed. The church offers basic shelter and provides warm beverages.

"It's kind of a no-frills shelter," said John Wieczorek, board president of Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland and chair for the Social Justice and Action Committee at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

 A limited amount of bedding will also be available.

"That's the largest facility, so they can accommodate at least 40," Wieczorek said.

On weekdays between Nov. 16 and April 14, local faith-based organizations and nonprofits coordinate homeless shelters. First Presbyterian Church of Ashland's shelter is open Mondays, Pioneer Hall in Ashland, staffed with volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist congregation and Temple Emek Shalom, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland is open Wednesdays. Each of the shelters offer camp pads to sleep on.

Although there is no regular weekend shelter, whenever the temperature is projected to drop below 20 degrees, the city authorizes an emergency shelter.  Wieczorek said the shelter program is a matter of safety. People who are malnourished and underdressed can't handle the freezing weather.

"People have died from hypothermia at the 32 mark," Wieczorek said. "Certainly when it's 20 you can run into frostbite and other things as well."

On Friday afternoon, the location of an emergency shelter Sunday night hadn't been sorted out yet.  Wieczorek said once he has a location, he'll update information at OHRA's website, www.homelessoptions.org.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.