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Shelter from the cold

Homeless for three years, Charles Bonfiglio hopes he’ll find a safe, warm place to sleep before the cold sets in this winter.

“I don’t want to be on the street anymore,” said the 51-year-old, who’s in treatment for drug addiction and has congestive heart failure.

Bonfiglio and other homeless people are signing up for the chance to stay in the Kelly Shelter, which will have 50 beds available in the basement of First United Methodist Church, 607 W. Main St.

This will be the third year of operation for the shelter. Instead of opening for three months starting in January, it will be open for four months starting Dec. 1.

“I think that’s awesome,” Bonfiglio said. He works seasonal jobs and has been looking for temporary housing after facing economic hardship and falling into drug addiction during the recession.

The shelter can house 50 people at a time. Eventually, Rogue Retreat, which runs the shelter, hopes to find a place to house 100 homeless people at a time and possibly be open year-round.

On Friday, Brandie Barnes, case manager for Rogue Retreat, signed up applicants for the shelter, running them through a risk assessment to help determine whether they would pose any threat to others. A background check is also conducted because sexual predators are not allowed.

“We’re really excited to open the Kelly Shelter Dec. 1,” Barnes said.

While the city of Medford has approved the earlier opening date, Rogue Retreat is applying for a conditional use permit that would allow the part-time use to continue beyond this year.

The shelter provides a mat on the floor for each occupant. During the day, other facilities in the area provide places for the homeless, which helps alleviate some of the vagrancy problems encountered by downtown businesses.

Dinner and breakfast are provided, and showers are available at nearby Set Free Christian Fellowship.

While homeless people are in the Kelly Shelter, other local organizations will work with them to get counseling and find more permanent housing.

Rogue Retreat has hired help from Compass House, which helps those who have been diagnosed with mental health issues.

During the first year of operation, in 2017, the Kelly Shelter at times had to deal with rowdy behavior, and worse, from those who didn’t abide by the rules.

This past winter, the shelter had few problems, with 18 calls for service for Medford police, compared with 81 the year before.

Barnes, who is in charge of the shelter, said she has had some tough conversations with rule breakers.

Because of the greater oversight, Barnes was able to determine that many of the homeless were not taking medications to help with their mental-health conditions.

To get them into a more permanent situation, Barnes worked with the homeless people to get birth certificates, driver’s licenses, identification cards and other documentation needed for a job or housing.

To avoid having people lined up at the door to the shelter, 50 people are selected for the four-month period. If someone finds a more permanent situation, another homeless person can take their place.

As a result, last year 140 different people stayed at the shelter over the three-month period.

Caleb Allen, a 32-year-old who has been homeless for 18 months, said his mother lost her home after troubles with a heroin-addicted roommate.

He said he stayed at the Kelly Shelter last year.

“I loved it,” Allen said. “It was the best place for me to stay warm and dry.”

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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