Lane County Poverty and Homelessness Board has a unified, coherent strategic plan. by Pat Farr

 

Lane County’s Poverty and Homelessness Board (see link here) has a unified, coherent strategic plan for working toward eliminating homelessness in the county.  Progress on the long road is reported in a living, breathing document (see document here) that details the goals, strategy and partners involved in each item’s execution.  While due dates are not fully determined, the subcommittee performing the work on each item in the living document is identified. (see committees here).

The Poverty and Homelessness Board (PHB) meetings are now broadcast live on Metro TV Channel 25, rebroadcast and accessible for viewing online (link here). Minutes of all past meetings are published (link here).

Every year on December 17 the few of us who knew Tom Egan and many thousands who did not reflect on the the place he froze to death and collectively call for an end to homelessness.  This annual reflection helps elevate the PHB’s goal to “Inform and Enhance Public Awareness and Advocacy Efforts” surrounding poverty and homelessness.

Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr, who served with Egan in the Oregon Army National Guard, tells a story about Egan during a ceremony remembering him on Dec. 18, 2017. Picture is from Jack Moran’s essay published in the Register-Guard on Christmas Day 2018. (Brian Davies/The Register-Guard)

When I first became deeply involved in issues surrounding homelessness I was an executive manager at Jerry’s Home Improvement Center who had recently became Eugene City Councilor from Ward 6, Bethel.

Like everyone else who first gets a taste of the plight of the homeless children, men and women in Lane County I vowed to do something about it.  I wondered why people had not been paying attention and why local government was doing nothing.

I quickly found out that many resources–including government, nonprofit and private–had been dedicated on a wide array of fronts to helping solve the issue.

My first touch was in 1993, when Jerry’s began planning the immense home center you see at 2600 Highway 99 North.  On the site we were going to build our new store there were six houses, all occupied and four of them in good enough shape to preserve instead of raze.

The Jerry’s flagship store stands where houses that are now on Hope Loop once stood.

Jerry bought the houses and commissioned me to work with local agencies to find a new place to move them.  Teaming with St. Vincent DePaul a new location was identified and a new street, Hope Loop, was platted in west Eugene to re-place the homes.

Fast forward a year and I am now a Eugene City Councilor, standing beside Eugene Mayor Ruth Bascom and Springfield Mayor Bill Morisette dedicating those homes to St. Vincent DePaul’s low income housing programs.  Mayor Ruth Bascom has appointed me to the newly-formed Council Committee to Finance Affordable Housing and my work on poverty and homelessness issues has begun in earnest.

Pat Farr with Eugene Mayor Ruth Bascom and Springfield Mayor Bill Morisette dedicating houses that were formerly located at the current site of Jerry’s Home Improvment Center to the St. Vincent DePaul at Hope Loop in west Eugene.

In the years since then I have been asked to participate in a spectrum of programs and efforts designed to give people safe, secure and sanctioned places to sleep, with a strong focus on permanent housing.  Understanding that the best progress is only possible through consolidated work and detailed coordinated planning, the PHB (see link here) was formed in 2014 to bring government, nonprofit, private industry and dedicated individuals together in a powerful policy-recommending group.

PHB and its subcommittee members (see document here) are focused on  strategic plan to reduce homelessness and poverty.  The Board keeps track of details of the plan in a living document listing its strategies and tactics and providing updates on progress.  (See document here)

Jack Moran’s well-researched essay on Egan, published on Christmas Day 2018  (see essay here) has helped forward the PHB’s strategy to inform and enhance public awareness and advocacy efforts surrounding poverty and homelessness but much work and coordinated effort still lay ahead.

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