It’s been a cold wet week. We need the precipitation, so I’m happy. But looking out my window at the rain and snow every day, I keep thinking about our unhoused neighbors, whose number has grown in our county and state since last year.
I am glad our city opened Pioneer Hall as an emergency severe weather shelter this week as a stop-gap measure. I am also thankful so many people in our community recognize the importance of providing integrated services to address this problem. You all make it possible for Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) to operate a year-round emergency shelter with an array of supportive assistance from our navigators and community partners.
Until last year, OHRA and many dedicated volunteers ran a winter-only shelter from Nov. 1 through March 31. Back then, rainy-snowy days in April would have caught many of our guests outside scrambling to find a way to escape the elements. Fortunately, the state provided funding in 2021 to buy the old Super 8 on Ashland Street, and ongoing generous support from many people in our community enables OHRA to operate it as a year-round shelter.
So this week our guests are looking out of the window at the cold rain and snow instead of stressing about it outside. Just imagine what that modicum of stability means to our neighbors as they rally precious energy and attention to getting back on their feet! And it works. We recently celebrated three more shelter guests who found permanent housing in our community.
On behalf of the board and staff of OHRA, thank you for thinking about our neighbors who are struggling and thank you too for extending your helping hand. For more about OHRA, go to HelpingAshland.org.