Out In The Cold: A Look At Homelessness In The State Of Jefferson

Homeless people live in every part of Jefferson Public Radio's listening area. And the counties of southern Oregon and northern California are employing a wide range of approaches to try to help them.

"Out In The Cold" is a month-long series of programs on the Jefferson Exchange where we survey the extent of the problem, examine its many facets and talk to the people working to get shelter to those without.

As one of the more-populated counties in the region, Jackson County also has a higher population of homeless people. 

A Homeless Task Force formed years ago, with the goal of getting street people off the streets.  They remain, and have been the target of new laws, like exclusion zones in Medford and Ashland. 

Our survey of homeless people and services, Out in the Cold, surveys Jackson County issues and offerings in this joint interview. 

Lane County is the most populous county JPR serves.  And along with the big population, there is a large population of homeless people. 

Homeless advocates in the county have provided a number of innovative programs, like Opportunity Village Eugene. 

But there are many other entities involved in caring, or attempting to care for, the homeless population.  ShelterCare is one of them. 

Community Sharing in Cottage Grove also plays a role. 

Families with children and little money for housing can end up sleeping at the homes of friends and relatives, or in their cars, or outdoors. 

Douglas County has an answer for homeless young people, with and without parents: Casa de Belen.  It provides transitional housing for homeless young people and their families to get back on their feet. 

We learn more about it as our series Out in the Cold focuses on Douglas County. 

If there was any doubt, our series of interviews "Out in the Cold" has confirmed that every part of our region includes homeless people among its inhabitants. 

We turn our attention to Klamath County, taking in issues for homeless people both young and old. 

Older people face challenges with age-related health issues, in fact sometimes end up homeless because of those issues. 

Meanwhile, families with children struggle to keep up with school when permanent shelter is an issue.  Klamath and Lake Community Action Services, KLCAS, works to address the issues. 

"IT'S THE CLIMATE," reads the sign in downtown Grants Pass.  But the climate includes winter, so trying to get through the days and nights without shelter is a true hardship. 

We continue "Out in the Cold" with a look at services available in Josephine County. 

UCAN (United Community Action Network) is the agency that works toward homelessness and housing solutions in Josephine and Douglas Counties.  One major program available in Douglas County is not on the list in Josephine: housing provided by the agency.  And Josephine County's ultra-tight housing market is a major issue.

Siskiyou County is one of the less-populated counties in California (roughly 45,000 people). 

But it is still a place where people struggle to find housing and sometimes just do without.  Last year a consultant versed in homelessness took a look at conditions in several small cities: Etna, Mt. Shasta, Tulelake, Weed and Yreka. 

We continue our series of interviews on homelessness, "Out in the Cold," with a discussion of how homelessness manifests in these smaller towns. 

There's plenty to think about when you're homeless.  Where you'll find shelter and food, how you'll stay healthy... and many more basic concerns about life itself. 

And then there's the fact that many people avoid, distrust, fear, and even hate homeless people. 

Our series of interviews on homelessness, "Out in the Cold," explores issues and offered solutions for homeless people in the region. 

Our attention turns to Shasta County, with Larry Olmstead from United Way of Northern California and Jonathan Anderson of the Good News Rescue Mission

Being homeless in the winter is a reality facing hundreds, possibly thousands, of people in the region.  Public and private agencies are set up to assist people, but there are still more people who need help. 

Our series of interviews on local homelessness, "Out in the Cold," continues with a look at the situation and responses in Humboldt County. 

Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, or AHHA, and Eureka Rescue Mission provide help to homeless people. 

It has become nearly impossible to avoid noticing homeless people in just about any community of any size in our region. 

High rents, low vacancy rates, low wages... they are among a long list of contributing factors to homelessness in all corners of the "state of Jefferson." 

We explore the situation in many of the counties we serve, with a series of interviews under the banner "Out in the Cold."  We begin with Mendocino County, very rural but also very close to the San Francisco metropolitan area. 

The annual point-in-time homeless count just concluded all over the country (January 31).  Most of the agencies dealing with homeless people in our region expect the numbers to be similar to last year's, maybe a little bigger. 

Our month-long series of interviews on homelessness and services in the region, Out in the Cold, concludes with a broad overview. 

Dan Bryant from Square One Villages (formerly Opportunity Village Eugene), talks about successes in getting people into stable housing. 

Robert Marbut has been hired by several communities in the region to examine services for homeless people... and he often finds people using services who may not need them. 

Additional perspective comes from Mohamed "Hassan" Awad, a doctoral student at the University of Oregon, and Constance Wilkerson, the Continuum of Care director for Jackson County.