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Council approves $55,000 grant for winter shelter

Ashland City Council unanimously approved a $55,000 grant Tuesday to Options for Helping Residents of Ashland to continue the winter shelter through the end of March.

OHRA has provided a number of resources for winter shelter guests in its first year operating from the property at 2082 E. Main St., but its funds were in danger of running out in the middle of February.

The money to keep the shelter running will come from the city’s affordable housing trust fund.

“It is an emergency,” said Ken Gudger, who recently stepped down as president of OHRA. “We only have enough money to last to the middle of February if we continue to provide the level of care we provide.”

City Housing Services Specialist Linda Reid said the city carried over $47,000 from the last grant cycle and expects to receive $200,000 for the biennium from marijuana taxes, so the fund would have a remaining balance of about $192,000.

Councilor Dennis Slattery commended OHRA and its community volunteers for their efforts.

“How far we’ve come is really outstanding to see,” Slattery said. “It wasn’t all that long ago that there wasn’t anything, and certainly it’s not perfect and doesn’t satisfy all the needs, but your results have been outstanding.”

Last winter OHRA teamed up with community members and the faith community to offer a winter shelter every night at a different location. The county granted a three-year permit last summer to operate the shelter, creating a seven-night shelter at one location.

Guests at the shelter have a bed every night all winter as long as they are respectful. They also receive services to help them become self sufficient. OHRA even purchased a bus to transport guests to and from the shelter.

Councilor Steve Jensen seconded the motion to approve the grant. “This is money well spent, and I think the community will completely support this,” Jensen said.

Contact Ashland Tidings freelancer Caitlin Fowlkes at caitlin.fowlkes@gmail.com.

file photoSet Free Christian Fellowship in Medford offers shelter from the cold to homeless people on Monday.