Lane County identifies camping area outside downtown Eugene core in response to safety, sanitation and security concerns. by Pat Farr

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

 

Lane County is working to address homelessness

“I have never been so disappointed in Lane County before…”

“I am continually cleaning up feces and other garbage from (my place of business)…”

“Lane  County needs to spend more time on action and less on surveys and talk…”

“Aren’t you tired of just talking about it…”

I sat silently Friday morning (October 26, 2018) as Eugene business people expressed their concerns and anger about homeless camping on public open space in the downtown core of Eugene.

The well-attended meeting (I was a non-participating guest) was a presentation by city staff and others to the Chamber of Commerce’s Local Government Affairs Committee about a homeless dusk-to-dawn camping proposal being considered by the City of Eugene to be located on the now-vacant former City Hall block downtown Eugene. View story here.

I personally decided then and there that action needed to be taken…today.  (I was not alone in recognizing the urgency for action).  I cancelled the rest of my work and activity for the day and focused on finding a way to not only respond to the concerns and demand for action expressed at the meeting I was attending, but to help find a safe, sanitary and more private location as an alternative place  for people to sleep.

Two hours later, County Administration had found a location on county land inside the city of Eugene and six hours later we were meeting with neighbors of the site to explain the county’s intentions.  The outreach to neighbors, as of this writing, is ongoing.

Working with Lane County Sheriff’s Department, Eugene Police, Lane County Public Works, Eugene City Manager’s Office and others the site was prepared before the end of the business day–a day that had started with the early meeting and quotes cited above.

This is not the ideal place or manner to address homelessness.  Lane County’s focus is on permanent housing and our efforts continue in cooperation with Lane County cities, the state of Oregon, the Federal Government, local nonprofits and businesses to add more housing at all levels to provide permanent and supportive housing.

But finding a place for men, women and children to sleep safely at night, with access to toilets and security, is a necessary part of keeping all parts of our cities and our county safe and accessible to all of the people who live here.

Not every comment at Friday’s meeting was negative.  In fact, most of the people in the room expressed and stated a clear understanding of the need to safely house people.

“As a group we have to champion this and make sure it is a success…”

“This is a start, we have to use this as an opportunity…”

“It is an important first step…”

Orderly sanctioned camp sites on Lane County property

Toilets, trash and recycle, fresh water and sanitation being added to reduce neighborhood impact

Cameras and 24-hour monitoring were added for safety and security

The step is taken and the work continues…

Read the Register-Guard associated article here.

 

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