Local agencies called for more collaboration and the creation of a commission to help solve the homelessness problem during presentations to the Roseburg City Council on Monday night.

Presentations from the United Community Action Network, Adapt, Compass, Homeless Transitions Action Group and the Local Public Safety Council occurred during the latest meeting by the City Council to deal with the issue of homelessness.

Kelly Wessels, chief operating officer for UCAN, said multiple solutions are needed.

“One of the things that we’ve learned is that no one solution exists,” Wessels said. “It is a series of small steps and solutions in combination with other people and other ideas, and we do not own the solutions ourselves.” Those solutions, she said, can be found through empowering the individuals facing homelessness.

Dane Zahner, the prevention and harm reduction manager of HIV Alliance, asked councelors whether they themselves would ever want to be homeless in Roseburg. The city limited shelter options and no formalized group addressing homelessness.

“These people are our community members. They may be homeless, but they are community members,” Zahner said. “The biggest thing is that they are human beings. And is that how we’re treating our homeless population?”

HIV Alliance is a member of the Homeless Transitions Action Group, a collective of more than 60 advocates and volunteers who have been meeting since 2015 to determine ways to address homelessness in Douglas County.

The group asked the City Council to contribute by creating a homelessness commission.

Mike Fieldman, a representative of the Homeless Transitions Action Group and former director of UCAN, said a commission would help identify gaps and coordinate services.

City Council member Andrea Zielinski, who volunteers with multiple programs for the homeless, said she supports forming a commission.

“I can stand up there and spout what I believe we should do, but when it comes from a commission of people that make a consensus on something and bring it forward, then we can have some more actionable items,” Zielinski said after the meeting.

The other councilors expressed interest in hearing from more services, and the group elected to wait before making a decision. The next council meeting is scheduled for July 13.

Nearing the end of the session, which detailed services such as rental relief programs, substance use counseling, mental health care, mobile crisis centers and sanitation, City Council member Beverly Cole said, “I don’t see how anybody can fall through the cracks unless they decide to.”

Upon hearing Cole’s comment, Fieldman of the Homeless Transitions Action Group returned to the microphone.

Fieldman asked the council to look for the gaps in care. He said there isn’t enough housing for people in Roseburg, and services are limited.

“Unfortunately our funding systems aren’t put out to deal with a person as a whole, they deal with certain aspects of their needs,” Fieldman said after the meeting. “And so we have different agencies that are dealing with different parts of their needs.”

“No one agency does it all. So how do you line that all up so one agency can have the full array of services?” Fieldman said. “Solving that problem is on us, not on the individual.”

Abbey McDonald is the Charles Snowden intern at The News-Review. She can be reached at amcdonald@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4217.

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Study predicts national homelessness spike due to COVID-19.



The best they got is “create another city commission” - what do we need her in a council seat for then?

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