Friday, February 19, 2016

A Cheap Place to Shower and Sleep

The old Rays on North 7th Street is perfect for this project

I am Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener, and I have a dream: a no-frills hostel.
Grants Pass will soon have a place for intoxicated people to sleep off their intoxication, thanks to Chief Landis and company.  A Medford non-profit is proposing to start a juvenile shelter here like they have in Medford.  Grace Roots, a Medically Assisted Treatment Center (MAT-C) for opiate addiction, is in the works, thanks largely to Nancy Yonally and the people she has gathered to help her.  We already have the Gospel Rescue Mission with its showers, meals and residential rehab, and Faith House, a shelter for battered women and their children.  The Salvation Army soup kitchen is another long-established feature in Grants Pass.
Now we need a cheap place to shower and sleep for people who are not intoxicated, not juvenile, not seeking help for addictions, not battered, or for whom there is no room in other shelters.  It’s time to start a non-profit to build and run a no-frills hostel so people who are willing to follow a few simple rules can pay $5 to shower and spend the night.  It can be a soft place to land for those who find themselves on the street without shelter for whatever reason, or who are just passing through.
Getting people out of the weather and providing them showers and bathrooms is good not only for them, but for the businesses, residents, and police of our city, who otherwise have to deal with people who are cranky from lack of sleep and exposure to the elements and everything that comes with people living out of doors on other people’s property.
It would be a hostel, a pay shelter, so it will be sustained mostly by the people who use it, with no subsidies needed in bad times when it is fairly full, and occasional fundraisers in good times when it is not full enough.
The Restwell Center will have one large room full of cots, with low light for a guardian to watch over the sleepers, and eye masks and ear plugs available.  It will have restrooms, showers, a coin-op laundry, and a reading room with an information kiosk for local services.  It will have an entrance kiosk and a person there to take people’s money and tell them the rules, and outdoor kennels for their dogs.  It will have a parking lot for their vehicles, and cameras inside and out, watched by the person in the entrance kiosk.
The rules will be simple: 
·        No talking or eating in the sleeping room. 
·        No smoking or vaping indoors, per state law. 
·        No searches for guns, drugs or alcohol, but if you pull any out of your bags, you will be trespassed. 
·        No dogs indoors.  Dog owners will be responsible for feeding their dogs and cleaning up their waste.   
·        No loud voices indoors.  Headphones will be allowed, as long as nobody else hears them.
We will sell sleeping vouchers that people can give to people asking for money.  We will also allow a few people to clean the place mid-afternoon in return for vouchers. 
The Center will be open for sleepers 24/7, as some people may have night jobs, and when people need to sleep, they should have a place to sleep safely.  People with sniffles, coughs or sneezing will sleep at the opposite end of the room from the healthy, and will be provided cold masks to reduce symptoms and contagion.
It will also have gardened areas outside, because I want to teach people who want to work and can’t find jobs how to garden and start their own residential gardening businesses.  It takes cheap classified advertising, relatively few and inexpensive tools, and one can use customers’ tools when starting out.  It is work that felons can do on their own; nobody has ever asked me about convictions when hiring me to work in their yard or outside their business.  We have a severe shortage of gardeners, people who kill weeds rather than just cutting them, which does not stop them from spreading.
It will not serve food or have any available.  There is the Salvation Army soup kitchen, the Gospel Rescue Mission, and food stamps.  We want to keep this simple.
I first proposed the Restwell Center in 2011, but didn’t feel competent then to head or run the project, and couldn’t find a person or group willing to take it on.  Now I am more confident and see a path to get there, between GoFundMe, Facebook, Twitter, and people I have met in the last 5 years. 
The first step is to start a non-profit so we can apply for grants to build it, and only to build it.  We can be taken in by another non-profit to help us get it started while we do the work to be a registered non-profit, which can take a year or two.  We have an empty grocery store that would be perfect for it with a bit of remodeling. 
It takes time, money, and legal help to start a non-profit, so we need donations to do the research needed to figure out the costs of building and running it.  Money in our bank account will attract more money and interest.  Once the non-profit is started, of course, any funds left in this starter account will be donated to it.
I am only one stroke of bad luck away from losing my own home, and might need to use the Center someday.  If it is successfully established, it will give me and a lot of other people living on the edge of their income peace of mind, knowing that there will be a place to go besides the bushes.  It will make this a safer, cleaner, kinder city, both for residents and those without a residence.
Please donate to this seed-money fund, and help us plant the seeds to grow the Restwell Center at, or contact me to donate in person or by mail.

Special February 2016 proposal. 

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040