PATH — The Homeless Task Force

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Last November, community activists Deb Harpster and Doug Walker started a homeless task force to deal with the multitude of issues involved with finding solutions for the homeless in Grants Pass and Josephine County.  Our first meeting was held at the Newman Methodist Church on November 14, 2022.

This is a non-partisan group made up of individuals from both political major parties, non-affiliated voters, and members of some of the smaller political parties.  We hail from all walks of life and have a variety of backgrounds and skills.  Some of us are still working and some are retired.  We are united in a common goal.

We hear a lot of complaints that the homeless have taken over our parks, making them unusable for the rest of us and our families.  What so many in our community don’t know is, because of a court injunction, the City of Grants Pass is required to allow the homeless to camp in our parks because Grants Pass does not provide sufficient shelters and/or places for them to camp.  Until we do provide sufficient shelters and/or campgrounds, Grants Pass must continue to allow the homeless to camp in our parks.

Our task force includes a number of action committees, each working on specific issues such as finding locations/sites for shelters and/or services of one type or another; identifying all the organizations who do or who can provide services for, or interact with the homeless, then making it easier for the homeless to navigate these organizations; finding and training volunteers and partners; obtaining funding; communicating within the task force; communicating with the community.  I am a member of the Information/Communications Action Committee.

The mayor of Grants Pass and many of the City Council members are very much aware of our task force.  We are already interacting with them. Some of the city councilors are also very active in the task force.

Our Josephine County Commissioners, on the other hand, believe that homelessness is a city problem.  Not a county problem. We know that homelessness is an issue throughout the county. It is not just a city problem. One of our goals is to get our commissioners to understand that homelessness is an issue that we all need to understand and be involved in.  Julie Hartford, the Vice Chair of our Information/Communications Action Committee introduced our task force to the Commissioners during the public session of the January 25, 2023, Board of Commissioners Business Meeting with the following presentation:

“Good morning,

I am here to update you on our grassroots-volunteer group that has been meeting since last November to work on the homelessness problem in Josephine County.

We call ourselves the PATH task force…Partners Assisting the Homeless.

With over seventy volunteers and counting, the group’s mission is to help people transition out of homelessness and create a safer, healthier community for all in Josephine County.

PATH’s first important tasks are to gather information about the numerous organizations that already exist, understand what they do and what they need to best serve our local, homeless population. We seek to discover where duplication or gaps in services exist and then help join forces to create an efficient, solution-driven coalition.

Our goals include locating volunteers who will work “in the field” with those who are homeless in the community.

Of top priority, PATH is committed to helping establish various facilities, allocate funds, and coordinate services in Josephine County so individuals and families will no longer need to sleep in city parks, right-of-way areas, in front of businesses and on private property.

If you have any questions or are interested in receiving more information about PATH, please let me know. I will be sure to have someone reach out to you as soon as possible.”

1 Comment

  1. brenda k sisson
    March 23, 2023 @ 12:14 pm

    “With over seventy volunteers and counting, the group’s mission is to help people transition out of homelessness and create a safer, healthier community for all in Josephine County.”…
    “mission is to help people transition out of homelessness”…

    I did read the entire statement, and it is well said. Albeit, this is the only few words, 9 words from the entirety that I saw…was a direct hint in truly aimed to help the homeless.
    The rest of the statement was to recruit and grow the ‘task force’ by including and educating others…in joining your PACH Task Force movement.
    By your language using words such as, “task force” is very unfriendly and has a militant feel. It also is very strong in suggesting to ‘infiltrate’ as to influence only your ideas of this ‘task force’, leaving out the helpful recruitments for the homeless to employment, education, mental help, drug and family counseling, etc…. I did not read the language to include the operations in service to incorporate as a friendly ally, only to join into PATH’s way.

    Spoiler Alert: I was homeless. Living in my car, in Central California, an advantage most do not have in that sort of luxury, protection, mobility…I could not afford anything else. I ate 1 large bag of CornChips a week. No food programs, no promise of a Thousand dollars, no park to lounge around in till dawn. Barely enough money to buy gas. But having a car did not come without problems…mu brake line broke. All I had to fix it with was a Wrigley Gum inner wrapper, the aluminum piece. As you are chuckling, and thinking…is she serious? I’ll tell you, yes!
    I knew my situation was not going to sustain me in any way, shape or form. I had to think, and come up with a solution.
    No one was going to “FIX MY LIFE”.
    I started thinking…what would produce me a bed, food & clothes, and most above all, a income of money. Just the essentials of living…simple.
    Truck Driving came to mind. First to figure out how do I do that? Well, I did figure it out and it lasted as a 29 year profession.

    My coming back to a full circle, I ask…where is in your program of “task forcing” do you encourage these folks to move out of their situation??
    The evidence I have read only creates a easier, more comfortable way for them…but it is actually creating a endless, dead end way of life. No incentive to move into a betterment for future living. Only a temporary comfort lie for a fruitless, non-productive sun up to sun down dredgery.

    Please, consider my point of view. I wish to not have a response from you saying, “Thank you for your insights…etc” UGH!

    I hope for you to reconsider your “TASK FORCE” is not an answer.

    All my Best,
    Brenda Sisson


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