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St. Vincent raises rent relief dollars

A volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul in Medford helps feed local residents. St. Vincent is looking for more volunteers. Mail Tribune photo
Organization seeks volunteers

St. Vincent de Paul plans to help more local residents struggling to pay their rent after being battered financially by the pandemic and fires.

“There are people who are so desperate,” said Rich Hansen with St. Vincent de Paul in Medford. “They’re saying there’s no way they can catch up, there’s no point in trying.”

The organization sent out a distress call to its regional headquarters in Sacramento and received $150,000 in donations from other St. Vincent locations along the West Coast.

With 2,500 residences destroyed in the Almeda fire, Hansen said, it’s apparent that many people need help during these hard times.

“We feel we need to be more generous,” Hansen said. “Even with the federal stimulus checks and other money in circulation, we are very concerned that when the governor lifts the rent moratorium, it will be chaos.”

An eviction moratorium lasts until June 30, but many renters are so far behind that they have lost all hope of catching up once the moratorium is lifted.

If you need assistance with your rent, call 541-772-3828, ext. 1.

Hansen said each situation will be evaluated to determine how much St. Vincent will pay toward a particular person’s rent.

St. Vincent is concerned that the scarcity of housing in the valley will lead to more homelessness in the days to come.

While St. Vincent doesn’t expect to necessarily pay for all the back rent for many local residents, Hansen said his organization’s contribution should give many people some hope that they are chipping away at how much they might owe.

The organization plans to process the requests within a 24-hour period.

St. Vincent has been hard hit by the pandemic, forced to curtail or alter many of its programs for the poor.

The all-volunteer organization has also seen a drop in volunteers over the past year, from 300 down to 200.

“As with a lot of organizations, 20% of the volunteers are doing 80% of the work,” Hansen said.

As a result, the organization is appealing to locals who want to help as volunteers. Go to www.stvincentdepaulmedford.info/volunteers.html to download a form to volunteer. You can call 541-772-3828, ext. 7, to speak to the volunteer coordinator.

Hansen said he’s seen a lot of desperation with many Jackson County residents over the past year.

“The need is there, and we are trying to meet the need and boost the spirits of the people who are giving up,” he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.