Local Treasures with Pia: Helping residents of Ashland be all they can be

Ashland, Oregon – A former motel here, has found a new purpose as a hub for homeless and social services that help residents of Jackson County, Oregon, through what’s often the most difficult times of their lives.

Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) recently received some grant funding from the Avista Foundation, which will help the organization strengthen its three main commitments: to move people from crisis to stability, find housing for the homeless and help military veterans find the services they need.

“We are here to help people who live at or below poverty level in Jackson County, and no matter which program you look at we help people move from a place of crisis in their lives to a place of stability,” said Cass Sinclair, executive director of OHRA.

At OHRA’s facility, homeless can use computers and have their mail delivered. They can also connect with a navigator – a caseworker who can help gain access to resources they may not know they are eligible for.

“Our main focus is to help people sign up for services they already qualify for,” Sinclair said. “Sometimes they just don’t know, or they got lost in the process of applying.”

Twice a week, OHRA operates a shower and laundry trailer out in the community, and one of the navigators is there, too.

Until OHRA acquired the former Motel 8, it operated a winter shelter five months out of the year in different locations.

“This is a game changer. Now we have 52 individual rooms and capacity for 72 people,” Sinclair said. People can stay for up to six months at the shelter, which partners with Le Clinica for health care and mental health appointments.

“Anyone can just walk in,” Sinclair said. “You don’t have to be enrolled in a program. We have a completely open resource center with shelter and wrap around services.”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $13 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.

Visit helpingashland.org to learn about the many programs offered by OHRA and read some of the client success stories.

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