Group will help homeless

Volunteers are needed on a new, local coalition that will work to end homelessness within 10 years.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners and United Way of Jackson County plan a Thursday meeting on the topic. The event follows commissioners' endorsement last year of further local efforts to end homelessness after they consulted with a U.S. government representative for the problem, said Angie Curtis, director of the county's Commission on Children and Families.

The county and United Way want community members interested in ending homelessness to join the new group, Curtis said. Participants in Thursday's workshop will learn more about homelessness in the county, the region and nationwide.

A conversation with someone who has no permanent housing also is on the agenda, Curtis said.

The meeting is from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Smullin Center, 2825 E. Barnett Road, on the Medford campus of Rogue Valley Medical Center. About 45 people are expected to attend, and seats were still available, Curtis said.

E-mail Becky Longie at to reserve a seat.

The concept of ending homelessness in 10 years sprang from a national effort spearheaded by government and nonprofit agencies, Curtis said. Clackamas County earlier this month adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness under the guidance of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, according to the government Web site,

"This is a rather radical notion," said Dee Ann Everson, executive director of the local United Way chapter. "Given the collaboration in our community, I think we could actually have an impact.

Jackson County's new movement will add to more than 20 years of effort by its Homeless Task Force, Curtis said.

"This is a way to build on the good work they have done," she said.

The Homeless Task Force last year unveiled a survey characterizing the community's homeless. More men throughout the county are homeless than women, the report stated, but 42 percent of the total homeless population surveyed are families.

Thirty-five percent of adults surveyed cited chronic homelessness. More than 1,100 survey respondents most frequently said their own drug and alcohol use caused them to leave home, followed by unemployment and the inability to afford rent. About 10 percent of those surveyed said they were homeless by choice.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

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