Unhoused residents sleeping in front of downtown businesses and in Jubilee Park, car camping and recent unauthorized warming fires are among the reasons that the Cave Junction City Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 966 with a 4-0 vote.
The vote was cast at a March 9 Zoom meeting that was published in the Illinois Valley News March 8. This meeting was attended by Mayor Meadow Martell, Councilors Jean Ann Miles, Tina Casey Jones, Ethan Lane, city recorder Rebecca Patton, Executive Director of I.V. Community Development Organization Lindsey B. Jones and Illinois Valley Living Solutions Board President Laura Mancuso.
This resolution by the council requested that the city of Cave Junction be included in the State Emergency Declaration due to homelessness after the Josephine County Commissioners refused to declare a state of emergency.
During public comment, Lindsey Jones reported that IVCanDo community surveys demonstrated that homelessness was a top issue that residents in the Illinois Valley and city of Cave Junction wanted to see addressed. The resolution stated, “WHEREAS, over 60% of our local community members surveyed in 2016 clearly designated homelessness a number one top priority to be addressed and over 55% prioritized homelessness as a number three priority (following public safety/law enforcement and lodging/visitor accommodations) in 2020.”
“I hope that the council will consider funding local projects to address the issue,” said Jones.
Mancuso, who participated in a point-in-time homeless count Jan. 25 and volunteers by providing a homeless mail service in the city, spoke about the number of unhoused residents she comes into contact with. “When I did surveys during the UCAN Point-in-Time Count, I talked to people sleeping on the sidewalks downtown and in their cars, sheltering at Jubilee Park and living in tents next to downtown businesses.”
The following information was stated in the resolution: “WHEREAS, 52 local homeless individuals make use of a homeless mail service provided for those with housing insecurities and a recent point-in-time homeless count provided by UCAN demonstrated 36 homeless in the City of Cave Junction, many found sleeping on sidewalks, in tents or cars and many under cover at the city’s public park.”
Councilor Ethan Lane said he was supportive of the resolution but was concerned about some of the data for fires being outside of city limits and wondered about where funding would go if obtained since there were so many different types of homeless residents. “From what I understand many people in our area choose to be homeless.”
In response, Councilor Miles said she spoke with I.V. Fire District personnel to get information about the amount of unauthorized burns in the I.V. and within city limits and then confirmed with Mancuso that the 36 unhoused residents were indeed counted in the actual city of Cave Junction.
Mancuso also followed up with Lane’s concerns by explaining, “You are correct that there are many different types of homeless situations but the transitional facility called ‘I.V. HOPE Village’ being planned by Illinois Valley Living Solutions is for unhoused residents that want to get off the streets and make plans to find stable housing.”
Mayor Martell reminded the council that the language in the governor’s emergency declaration was to provide “shelter.”
Patton said that the resolution needed to be signed and submitted by the mayor to the governor’s office by Friday, March 10.
In a follow up email from Illinois Valley News, Martell wrote the following when asked what she hoped to accomplish in the city by declaring a state of emergency for homelessness: “The City of Cave Junction joined with the City of Grants Pass to declare a homeless emergency in a last
ditch effort to join the Governor’s statewide emergency homelessness
declaration. After Cave Junction submitted our declaration the
Governor’s Office made it clear that the emergency declaration had to
come from the county. Josephine County Commissioners refused and now
Josephine County will get a smaller amount of funding for rural counties.”