February 25, 2024

SOJWJ’s Jason Houk addresses Ashland City Council

My message to Ashland City Council tonight. I am an organizer with Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice, a non-profit with a goal of improving our community’s standard of living. We are sponsors of the Ashland Community Peace Meal and other efforts to provide aid and resources for our most vulnerable neighbors.
We value and appreciate all the efforts our community has put forth providing for our homeless community, providing shelter and options for folks in need. Where we are falling short is our commitment to food resources. We’ve created two new spaces for homeless people to gather but with no consideration for how to feed people. Community volunteers are doing great service trying to fill the need, but it is clear that more consideration needs to be made for food and meals. We do not have a dedicated indoor space where people can prepare meals and gather to eat.
We need to do a better job at keeping people safe, We need a more principled and focused approach and that includes the need for a COMMUNITY KITCHEN. Too much food is going to waste and too much food is being prepared without the benefit of a safe, secure dedicated space. If we are going to support community-sponsored spaces for folks we need to think about how we will feed people. The need for showers laundry etcetera. These cannot be secondary considerations.
We need to do a better job at keeping people safe. We are very concerned about the proposal to lower the temperature threshold for opening our emergency weather shelter from 32 degrees to 25 degrees is the wrong direction. It is cruel and inhumane and will put people’s lives at risk. This is the wrong direction for the city to go and I hope the proposal is rejected.
We need to do a better job at keeping people safe. The city has created a very dangerous situation on the Night Lawn and we need to fix it. We are creating quite a liability when we force people into a space and do not mitigate dangers. Folks have been bringing these issues to your attention for months and still nothing seems to be done. The city council, city manager and staff please realize we are all in this together. Please include your community partners and please LISTEN to their recommendations.
We’ve all been working very hard in good faith to create a safe space for our homeless families PLEASE if nothing else, let us strive to get the children who are forced to sleep on the night lawn into indoor shelter.