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Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA) is dedicated to helping our most vulnerable residents with the most basic of human needs – shelter. You may know us best through the Ashland Community Resource Center (ACRC) where our volunteers strive to give homeless and low income residents of Ashland opportunities to improve their situations and to leave poverty and homelessness behind.
ACRC Relocated & Refocused Services The Ashland Community Resource Center (ACRC) relocated from 572 Clover Lane to 1908 Ashland Street effective August 1. The center was closed July 22 – 31 while volunteers and staff prepared the new space and moved furniture and equipment. The shower trailer will operate as usual.
In the new location, services will reflect a new model which Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland began implementing at the ACRC in early July. Under this model ACRC no longer offers hospitality, food or clothing. Staff and volunteers strongly focus on helping clients reach self-sufficiency. As a result, the center continues to offer housing assistance, employment assistance and emergency assistance for essentials such as utilities and rent. Showers, mail, identification, documentation, and Safe Link phones as well as assistance with social security, VA and legal issues are still offered. ACRC partners with ACCESS, St. Vincent DePaul, La Clinica, Maslow Project, Department of Veterans Affairs, Oregon Department of Human Services and various other agencies. Navigating these and other agencies is difficult for those struggling with poverty, which is why the center calls its case workers “navigators.” These navigators also provide follow-up on client progress, which is essential if they are to successfully move from crisis to stability.
“When ACRC opened more than two years ago, we aimed to provide a safe, welcoming place for those in need. In 2015, we served 723 individuals and hosted a 6,175 visits. The large numbers strained the capacity of our original facility as well as the patience of our neighbors. In contrast, perhaps the smaller numbers we reported in the last calendar year reflected our greatest impact: 42 families housed, 63 housed families provided with rent or utility assistance that allowed them to remain in their existing homes and 14 individuals employed through the Ashland Job Match Program. This year our Job Match program has 54 people in our active data base,” said Leigh Madsen, executive director of the ACRC.
“We view the move as a new beginning. We believe the new space can be tailored to the new operating model, where appointments, rather than drop-ins are encouraged. This model and the facility’s smaller size will make safety easier to monitor. We look forward to our partners’ and donors’ continued support in helping people build healthier, secure lives. This has always been ACRC’s ultimate goal.”
Ashland Job Match Expands ACRC’s Services
The Ashland Community Resource Center (ACRC) is many things to many people.
–To someone who suddenly loses his or her job and just can’t make ends meet, it could be a way to get a utility bill paid to keep the lights on and heat on.
–To someone struggling with a disability, it can help locate the documents that verify that person’s identity so that ACRC volunteers can help them access federal or state benefits that they are already entitled to.
–To someone faced with low income and high rents, it might offer a pathway to a home.
–To others it might simply be a warm cup of coffee and a sympathetic ear when they are financially drowning and life throws them yet a new crisis.
–Or it may be a place to get a shower and clean, dry clothes for people who are “living rough.”
ACRC has offered these and other services since its opening in February 2014. Since last September, it has offered a new service: a way to find employment and build a resume. The program is called Ashland Job Match. It is funded by ACRC’s parent organization, OHRA, as well as the City of Ashland and a grant from the Leightman Maxey Foundation. It’s a natural fit with the mission of OHRA, since without a job, paying rent is tough.
How it works is simple. Employers go to the Ashland Job Match web site, www.ashlandjobmatch.com, completing an on-line form. The jobs don’t have to be full-time, permanent positions, although they can be. Jobs could be installing dry wall, yard clean-up, gardening work, help moving, shoveling snow or any general labor position. The job seeker also fills out a form on the site. Then, Job Specialist Tina Stevens reviews the listing and looks for a fit. She also provides coaching on resume preparation, interview skills and developing confidence. The resume creation process is critical says Tina. But it is less about what ends up on paper and more about the dialogue that precedes it. “Sometimes people don’t realize what skills they have until you start asking them questions,” she says. “They have skills they haven’t thought about.”
Since launching in September, Job Match has found 19 people employment. And Tina will tell you the greatest accomplishment of the program is not the “match” but the hope and encouragement the program’s very existence delivers.