New Homeless Commission discusses possible temporary shelters in Roseburg
The increased number of the unhoused forces community leaders to come up with ways to combat the cold months to come as soon as they can. The Homeless Commission, as they call themselves, plans to quickly establish temporary shelters before the community builds a permanent shelter.
As of now in Douglas County, the unhoused population relies on parking lots, business locations and the highway to have a place to sleep and receive help.
At this time, however, the Homeless Commission is still working on plans to establish a temporary shelter. The commission was just established under Ordinance 3546 in Dec. 2020. Their first Zoom meeting on Jan. 25 discussed possible locations for a shelter. The majority of the community leaders agreed with holding the shelter at the Douglas County fairgrounds on days dependent on the weather, although those plans are not finalized with the fairgrounds nor has another been chosen.
The commission considered using multiple churches as temporary shelters for the unhoused; however, the use of churches could violate social distancing guidelines. Shelly Briggs Loosely, board chair of the YMCA, said in the Zoom meeting, “As long as the fairgrounds would cooperate, we need it now, not going and looking for the churches.”
The members also considered distance of the fairgrounds to Roseburg but decided that any solution would require a reasonable walking distance. “It’s not that far on the bike path,” Loosely said. “They can walk, at least from downtown or at least by Denny’s. That part is not even half a mile.”
The commission prefers using one shelter location at this time. Brent Eichmann, CEO of Umpqua Health, said, “From an operations and logistics perspective, having one location would be, it occurs to me, much more easy to, or somewhat more easy to implement and would be easy to communicate to the community versus having multiple organizations.”
Unfortunately, the fairgrounds is not a solution that can last forever. They hope to be able to have a shelter built as soon as they can.
The permanent shelter, wherever it ends up being located, will need certain features to help the unhoused in the long run.
“I feel like we should have more places for homeless people to at least be able to shower and wash their clothes so that they are able to keep themselves clean and be able to get ready for work or get ready for job interviews,” Camryn Acord, a former UCC student, said. “As for the people who do drugs, there are already quite a few programs that I’ve heard of, at least over the years, that do help people get off drugs and go to rehab or therapy.”
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