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Medford homeless center takes shape

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneTwo buildings on Market St in Medford that will be converted into a homeless resource center.

Medford City Council unanimously approved a $1,862,986 contract Thursday night with S&B James Construction to build a homeless navigation center.

Last Thursday, the council approved an exemption to competitive bidding for the project, a step required to award the contract and to ensure opening the shelter by July 1, 2022, to qualify for a state grant.

The city previously bought the buildings at 685 and 691 Market St. for $1.9 million plus closing costs with the intention of remodeling them for a one-stop center for homeless services.

Located just off Biddle Road, the buildings are next door to the Oregon Department of Human Services Self Sufficiency Program and about a block from La Clinica.

Rogue Retreat, which operates a number of homeless shelters in Medford, would run the navigation center at the 16,365-square-foot building at 685 Market St. That building would be connected to another 7,500-square-foot building at 691 Market St.

Some of the improvements to the buildings include installation of a heating and air conditioning system, restrooms and showers, a commercial kitchen, fire safety improvements, a door connecting the 7,500-square-foot sleeping quarters to the building at 691 Market St.

The building at 685 Market St. will include sleeping quarters, office space, confidential meeting space, restrooms and shower areas, a kitchen and dining area and storage.

The structure at 691 Market St. is being considered for use as family shelter, mental health stabilization, or additional shelter for COVID-19 isolation.

Because of the tight timeline for construction, the project will be completed in phases so that it could begin serving people before everything is completed.

The project is using a number of revenue sources for the purchase of the buildings and the remodeling. The American Rescue Plan Act provides $1.4 million and another $600,000 comes from the city’s general fund.

An addition $2.5 million Oregon grant is also helping the project but requires the Navigation Center to open by July 1, 2022.

Rogue Retreat plans to move its 64-bed Kelly Shelter, located near the downtown, into the navigation center, potentially adding another 40 beds to the new location.

The existing Kelly Shelter location, owned by ACCESS, will be turned into a severe weather shelter.

The existing Kelly Shelter costs $40 to $50 a day per person, which includes 24-hour staffing.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.