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A motel for homeless people might be in the future

The new homeless camp costs more than $1,000 a month for each campsite, so why not take over a downtown motel, then our fellow humans could have bathrooms, heat, air conditioning, etc. We could also provide security and counseling. Meanwhile those illegally camped on the Bear Creek Greenway are a public health and fire hazard. Why would you want to live in a tent during a heat wave? We spend millions on fighting a virus but allow illegal activity. I don’t get it.

— Warren C.

You’ve certainly given this some thought and brought up a bunch of suggestions, Warren.

First of all, we should point out that a recent article in the Mail Tribune about the new urban campground discussed the possibility of using a motel as a future site for a homeless residence, which has been tried in other communities in the U.S.

The upkeep of a motel would likely be more expensive than an urban campground.

You have to look at the urban campground as the first step of a multi-stage process to get homeless people into more permanent housing. Many homeless people need to get acclimated to living in close quarters, and the campground is sometimes their first step away from living rough on the Greenway.

There are portable potties at the campground, and the campers have access to showers at another facility. Rogue Retreat, which runs the campground, also operates Hope Village, a collection of tiny houses which also don’t have electricity or air conditioning.

Housing the homeless includes a number of costs, including 24-hour oversight, with at least two employees at any given time at the site. During the day, counseling and health services are provided to help transition homeless people back into society. Many of homeless people also have mental health issues or drug addictions that have to be addressed. Meals are also brought in to feed people.

You’re right that the homeless camps on the Greenway are in violation of city code, but the code was set aside under Gov. Kate Brown’s shelter-in-place order.

You’re also right that homeless camps increase fire risk on the Greenway. That’s one of the reasons the city wants a controlled campground. Trash is also a problem on the Greenway, but it won’t be at the campground. Careful monitoring of the campground is one of the reasons why two supervisors are always on the job at the site.

The bottom line, Warren, is that it’s an expensive undertaking to create housing that includes a number of the services required to get homeless people back on their feet.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.