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City of Ashland acquires property for emergency and inclement weather shelter

 The office space on the property acquired by the City of Ashland for an emergency shelter.
The office space on the property acquired by the City of Ashland for an emergency shelter.

The acquisition aims to address the city’s long term needs regarding public safety and homelessness. Ashland City Councilor Dylan Bloom said that the goal is for the property to act as a place for people to go during extremely hot and cold weather and to provide shelter to unhoused people.

“I think it’s part of a broader strategy of how we can deal with the houseless issue in Ashland, and it’s been a long time coming,” Bloom said. “It’s time that we actually start really having a forward-thinking view.”

The site is 1.2 acres, including a 3,097 square foot commercial use office space and parking. Bloom said that the access to both indoor and outdoor space is part of why the council landed on that property.

At the city council meeting, many members of the public spoke to voice their concerns about the acquisition of the property, including that it is near The Siskiyou School. City councilor Paula Hyatt moved to amend the motion to direct city staff to work with The Siskiyou School in support of its role as a community destination in the neighborhood.

Multiple councilors said a longer conversation would continue with the community regarding the details of the property’s use. Mayor Tonya Graham said the council is committed to making the shelter work for both the unhoused population and those who will live, work and attend school nearby it.

“We need to help our unhoused neighbors and friends, and we need to make sure that this works for the neighborhood,” she said. “We are committed to making sure that this works well.”

The total purchase price is $2 million. It will be paid for with $1.4 million in cash from grant funds, and a seller’s loan to the city of $600,000 at 3.75% for 20 years. The city will close on the property Sept. 8.

Bloom said next steps for the facility include improvements to make sure the property is safe and secure and has necessities like water and bathroom facilities. He said the goal is to have it ready to go for the winter.
Roman Battaglia contributed to this story 
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Ella Hutcherson