Continuing to house homeless veterans in Lane County. by Pat Farr

Monday, December 11th, 2017

I took this photo of Mrs. Obama from my seat in the White House East Room as she delivered a powerful speech supporting creating and maintaining housing for our nation’s veterans

A year ago I was called to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama in recognition of Lane County housing 404 homeless veterans in the year ending in March 2016.  Former Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy was also invited.  I took as my guest Jon Ruiz, Eugene’s City Manager and Terry McDonald of St. Vincent DePaul of Lane County joined us as Kitty’s guest.

Revealing the number of veterans housed during Operation 365 with Terry McDonald and Kitty Piercy

Since then the work of finding housing for veterans here continues.  436 veterans have been housed since that date in 2016.
Each month Lise Stuart from Lane County Human Services compiles the record of the continuing services and forwards a copy to me and to the people and agencies who are tirelessly working to place men, women and families in housing.
Here is the list distributed by Lise on December 8.
Lane County Highlights:
·            436 Homeless Veterans on the By-Name List have been housed (temporary or permanent) since 03/2016 (20 months) 
CoC-HUD APR Veteran Destinations (This is an unduplicated count, therefore this number may go down because veterans return to homelessness)
·            159 Veterans currently on the By-Name Active List
·              97 Number Veterans had a Coordinated Entry Assessment to get on the homeless housing wait list since 03/2016
·                0 Number Veterans had a Coordinated Entry Assessment to get on the homeless housing wait list in the past week 
         (0 in past 30 days)
·          1418 Individuals have been assessed for the Homeless Veteran By-Name List since 03/2016
·              20 New Homeless Veteran By-Name assessments in the past week
·              36 Unscreened homeless Veterans on the list
·                6 New Homeless Veterans (unscreened) added to ServicePoint CMIS/HMIS in the week
The agencies and staffs involved in this effort include:  Lane County, Cities of Eugene and Springfield, Catholic Community Services of Lane County, FOOD for Lane County, St. Vincent DePaul of Lane County, Community Supported Shelters, Lane County ShelterCare.

Safe and legal camping in Lane County. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

 

Lane County Commissioners acted Tuesday to help local homeless people who are living in their cars. The commissioners have faced reality.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to allow overnight car camping on private property in the Santa Clara area, north of Randy Papé Beltline.

While this would be a pilot project, a similar car camping program, called the Overnight Parking Program, already exists in Eugene. The Eugene program, a partnership between the city and the nonprofit St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County, has been operating smoothly since the late 1990s. Last year, OPP helped 81 individuals, and 27 families with 41 children, at a cost to the city of $89,000.

The sad reality is that these are people who will be living out of their vehicles regardless of how the commissioners voted. They just wouldn’t be as safe or as stable — which is particularly hard on families with children. Nor would they have minimal provisions for sanitation.

Eugene’s program, in contrast, provides screening and placement of campers, sanitation, trash pick-up and parking site management at no cost to the host. It also reduces the amount of time police have to spend responding to reports of illegal camping, allowing them to focus on more important law enforcement needs.

Living in a vehicle isn’t a lifestyle people generally choose if they have other options, but it’s a better than living on the streets, often the only other alternative for car campers. St. Vincent de Paul has found that providing a safe, legal place to camp in a vehicle helps families and individual in crisis stabilize their lives and gain better access to services that can help them get back on their feet and into employment.
Eugene is far from the only city that has approved legal places for car camping. For example, Ashland, which has been struggling with soaring housing costs, began a vehicle camping program this year when a Unitarian church stepped forward and offered space.

The number of police citations for illegal camping in Ashland plummeted — from 146 in 2016 to 29 in the first half of this year, the Medford Mail Tribune reported. (Citations carry fines of around $100, and failure to pay or appear can result in an arrest warrant — a heavy price to pay for being unable to afford housing.)

An effort earlier this year to open a homeless camp in a part of Santa Clara that is within Eugene’s city limits, on an undeveloped city park site near the Fred Meyer store, fizzled in the face of neighborhood opposition.

The reality is that whether some Santa Clara residents like it or not, there are already homeless people camping in their area — they just don’t have a high profile.

What a legal homeless camp will do is bring them out of the shadows, improving their safety and making sure they have access to basic needs.

Santa Clara residents will deal with homelessness one way or the other — by paying for law enforcement, trash pickups and other byproducts of illegal camping, or by allowing adults and children to park their vehicles in a legal, safe and sanitary place, making it easier for them to get back on their feet. The latter option makes more sense.

Thank you Register-Guard for this article:  Facing car-camping facts, printed in the November 29, 2017 Register-Guard.

Remembering my friend and fellow soldier Tom Egan. By Pat Farr

Sunday, December 18th, 2016
I took this photo of Tom Egan teaching soldiers on the grenade course at Camp Rilea, Oregon

I took this photo of Tom Egan teaching soldiers on the grenade course at Camp Rilea, Oregon

Tom Egan was a cavalry officer.

 

I served with Lieutenant Egan starting in 1977 in the 162nd Infantry Brigade, 2nd regiment, alpha company.  At the time, not too long after our troops had returned from Vietnam, strength in the unit was low and Tom and I were two of only three commissioned officers  in the company.  The third was Captain Tony O’Connor.  The three of us spent a great deal of time together, along with another commander, Captain Ray Byrne.  (This article was reprinted in the Register Guard on Christmas Day, 2016, titled:  Unforgotten Soldier, memory of Tom Egan moves community to act)

In November 2016 I traveled to Washington DC along with Mayor Kitty Piercy and our guests Terry McDonald and Jon Ruiz to receive recognition and celebrate Michelle Obama’s challenge to house homeless veterans.  Locally operation 365 housed 404 homeless veterans during 2015.

Ours was a great effort, but far too late to help my friend Tom Egan, who died a few feet from where I am standing, homeless, freezing cold–suffering from alcoholism and its accompanying despair.

After spending time in the White House being congratulated for Operation 365  in Lane County I spent the next day with retired Colonel Tony O’Connor.  We decided, and its true, that celebration of efforts is hollow—eggshell thin—as long as a single person, veteran or other, is on the street while the rest of us enjoy what every man woman and child should have—a warm and secure place to sleep.

That is why I am dedicating the next five years of my public service to funding, locating and building at least 600 new units of housing—permanent apartments, tiny houses, single room occupancy units—that are dedicated to people suffering from behavioral health disorders—substance abuse, mental illness, PTSD.  These supportive housing units will not only come with a safe, secure, sanitary place to live but with wrap-around case work and care.  It will be hard to do, and it will require a monumental coordinated effort of government, nonprofit and private citizens and organizations.

We will call it Operation 600 (see story here).  And it will be dedicated and designed to prevent tragic endings such as the one Tom Egan suffered right here in this place.

The idea came from a breakout session at the Lane County Poverty and Homelessness Board’s annual retreat in October.  Kitty Piercy, Steve Manella, Jacob Fox, Michael Kinnison and I were brainstorming ideas for the board’s aggressive strategic plan which includes adding a large number of supportive housing units, and Kitty said, “Operation 365 rang a bell with a lot of people, how about Operation 600?”  We all grabbed the idea.

And Operation 600 has begun.  A project for 60 studios on Lane County property next to the Behavioral Health Center on MLK Blvd has received commissioners’ support and is in the artist conceptual stage…another project with up to 60 supportive housing units for single moms and their children is being discussed and supported, also on Lane County property.  The Oaks, a joint effort of Sponsors and the Housing and Community Services Agency (HACSA) in west Eugene, is nearing completion.  Last month we opened HACSA’s  second phase of Bascom Village which along with St. Vincent DePaul’s first phase now houses hundreds of  men, women and children.

Square One Villages, St. Vincent DePaul, HACSA, ShelterCare, are all in the process of adding permanent supportive housing.  Eugene Mission is a powerful partner in the efforts.

Lane County is engaged, Eugene is engaged, Springfield is engaged…Cottage Grove, Oakridge, Creswell, Junction City, Florence—we will all be engaged.  And it is happening.

Tom Egan was a brilliant man and will never know the impact he has had.  But his friends who are engaged in making sure he will be memorialized here will always remember.

As we reminisced about Tom Egan, Colonel O’Connor reminded me of Tom’s humor.  His engaging manner was popular with his soldiers and his friends alike.  While sitting around the tactical operation center during bivouac training Tom would lull us to sleep with laughter.

He had an amazing sense of humor and could deliver extemporaneous monologue on almost any topic.  His renditions of his role model, Teddy Roosevelt—who he was the spitting image of—left us all in stitches.

He taught soldiers at Fort Bliss Texas, and one of his favorite classes was in the use of the M67 fragmentation hand grenade.  He’d hold one up and say, “Meet Mr. hand grenade.”  Then he’d pull the pin.  “Without the pin, Mr. Hand Grenade is not your friend…”  He captured the class’s attention.

His puns were classic, such as, “If lawyers are disbarred for misconduct, are cowboys de-ranged?  Are librarians dis-carded?”

Captain Ray Byrne is now retired General Ray Byrne.  Ray shared a few words, “He was a good reliable friend and a good soldier.  He enjoyed being a soldier and a scholar and serving his country.  Alcohol can get the best of men and every day can be a struggle, which Tom unfortunately lost. Everyone who knew him misses his quick wit, jokes and toasts.  I remember him as never being down or discouraged.”

Now let us all remember Tom Egan’s life with a smile and his death with a promise.

Veteran phot

Fog Jetty Creations pens raise funds for homelessness efforts in Lane County. by Pat Farr

Saturday, November 26th, 2016
Myrtlewood pen art will raise money for housing homeless in Lane county

These Myrtlewood pens will raise money for housing homeless in Lane county

Donation for Square One Villages.  These are twelve of 15 Fog Jetty Creations Oregon Myrtlewood pens that will be given this week.  Square One Villages provide emergency and transitional housing for people who otherwise would likely be living on the streets or under bushes.  Additionally, Emerald Village Eugene, part of the effort, will provide permanent living in tiny houses.

These pens are photographed with a backdrop of milled and not yet turned blanks. All twelve finished pieces plus the blanks are from the same tree, which grew in Curry County, and demonstrate the wide variation in the beautiful wood: from the highly-figured deepp browns all the way to blonde.

I turn Myrtlewood pens in memory of my Mother, Margaret Clayton Farr, who adored the native Oregon wood.  These pens and others I have given will be sold at auction or given as gifts for donations.

Before donning the mask and goggles, I am sizing up the blanks for accurate safe turning

Before donning the mask and goggles, I am sizing up the blanks for accurate safe turning

Oregon County Commissioners tour Lane County emergency and transitional housing sites. by Pat Farr

Friday, October 14th, 2016

 

Veterans Rest Stop operated by Community Supported Shelters offers safe, secure and clean transitional residences for homeless veterans

Veterans Safe Spot operated by Community Supported Shelters offers safe, secure and clean transitional residences for homeless veterans

On October 14, 2016 I will facilitate a tour of emergency, transitional and permanent housing facilities in Lane County for a group of Oregon county commissioners.  We will visit a variety of sites that are of interest to members of the Association of Oregon Counties who are hoping and expecting to develop and build a variety of types of housing in their home counties.

I am with Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall at Opportunity Village Eugene

I am with Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall at Opportunity Village Eugene

Following is the itinerary for the tour including links to the facilities we will visit and other facilities that provide a ladder of housing ranging from emergency shelters to permanent home-ownership opportunities:

County Commissioners facilities tour of Lane County veterans’ and other emergency and transitional housing facilities

October 14 2016

1:00 pm           Arrive at Opportunity Village 111 North Garfield, Eugene

Visit rest stop at Garfield and Roosevelt Avenues, on city of Eugene owned property, this rest stop has facilities for disabled homeless individuals.

Tour Opportunity Village Eugene, on city of Eugene owned property, on city of Eugene owned property, this facility has conestoga-dwellings, wooden huts, community food preparation, gathering and warming and sanitation.

http://www.opportunityvillageeugene.org/p/contact-us.html

2:25 pm           Travel to Veterans’ Safe Spot 1542 W 1st Avenue, Eugene, on Eugene Mission property.  Transitional housing for veterans.

http://communitysupportedshelters.org/eugene-safe-spots

Visit adjacent Nightingale Rest Stop:  transitional housing currently on Mission property, which has been historically located on Lane County property.  This facility elocates every six (or so) months

http://respectexistence.org/nightingale-health-sanctuary-full-description/

If time permits we will visit an emergency car camp on Lane County Property

The  tour was well attended, although accompanied by severe weather including thunder, lightning, hail, heavy wind and rain!  Thanks to Dan Bryant and Tod Scheider for guiding.

Dan Bryant explains to Oregon County Commissioners how the great hall at Opportunity Village serves the residents

Dan Bryant explains to Oregon County Commissioners how the great hall at Opportunity Village serves the residents

Other websites of interest regarding veterans’ housing, chronic homelessness and housing first efforts in Lane County:

Square One Villages, Emerald Village Eugene just broke ground on a tiny house project that will provide equity building opportunities for residents of the village:  http://www.squareonevillages.org/emerald

Operation 365 Veteran Homelessness website with links to partners in the project that housed 404 homeless veterans and their families in 2015:  https://www.eugene-or.gov/2942/Homeless-Veterans-Program

St. Vincent DePaul of Lane County Veterans’ Housing Project website, providing houses and apartments to veterans and their families:  https://www.svdp.us/what-we-do/affordable-housing/vet-lift/vet-housing-project-1/

Stellar Apartments includes 14 units for families of deployed National Guard soldiers and homeless veterans:  http://www.svdp.us/what-we-do/affordable-housing/rental-housing/completed-projects/stellar-apartments/

 

Pat Farr

 

 

 

 

 

United Way hosts nonprofits’ discussion with legislators. by Pat Farr

Monday, October 10th, 2016

On October 6 I moderated a discussion between Oregon State Legislators and the heads of 15 agencies funded by United Way of Lane County.

Noreen Dunnels, United Way of Lane County's Executive Director asked me to moderate a discussion between funded agency chiefs and state legislators on October 6 2016.

Noreen Dunnels, United Way of Lane County’s Executive Director asked me to moderate a discussion between funded agency chiefs and state legislators on October 6 2016.

More than 15 chiefs of Lane County’s largest nonprofit organizations, a total of thirty five participants, asked hard questions regarding how each of the legislators on the panel would support their priorities in the 2017 Oregon Legislative Session.

Questions for Oregon Legislators from the audience were direct and incisive.

Questions for Oregon Legislators from the audience were direct and incisive.

Included on the panel were veteran legislators Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Representative Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene and Brownsville), Senator Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), Representative John Lively (D-Springfield) and Representative Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene).

Representative John Lively listens as Rep Nancy Nathanson fields a question on affordable housing.

Representative John Lively listens as Rep Nancy Nathanson fields a question on affordable housing.

Each legislator had an opportunity to introduce themselves and their priorities before  the start of questioning.  While each talked of ranges of issues, their main focus was on the business likely to come before the committees they chair (each of the representatives is standing for reelection in November).  Beyer chairs the Senate Transportation Committee; Barnhart is chair of House Revenue; Edwards chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources; Lively chairs the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee and Nathanson is co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Each legislator paid particular attention to issues likely to be worked in the committees they will chair if re-elected and Democrats maintain control of both bodies.

Each legislator paid particular attention to issues likely to be worked in the committees they will chair if re-elected and Democrats maintain control of both bodies.

Questions and comments largely centered on budgetary priorities and each legislator talked about the difficulty of funding all projects and agencies that they would like to fund.  Rep. Lively summed up the budgetary question with the response, “As our economy continues to slowly improve, we have much work to do to make the incremental changes we can with the resources we have.”

Beyer, Barnhart and Edwards team up on a response regarding the affordable housing crisis

Beyer, Barnhart and Edwards team up on a response regarding the affordable housing crisis

uway-edwards-barnnhart-100616

Noreen Dunnells, Amanda McCluskey, Erin  Fifield, Kara Smith, Beverlee Hughes and others engage the panel.

Noreen Dunnells, Amanda McCluskey, Erin Fifield, Kara Smith, Beverlee Hughes, Jacob Fox and others engage the panel.

uway-opperman-100616

The main focus of everyone’s attention was the lack of housing at all levels in Lane County.  The low vacancy of rentals combined with the high expense of building new residences have combined to cause more families and individuals to fall into either impossibly expensive housing or homelessness.

Beverlee Hughes, Executive Director of FOOD for Lane County succinctly stated, “Four years ago when we asked clients ‘What single thing would help you most?’ the response was overwhelmingly, ‘Affordable health care.’ Today the response is, .Jobs and affordable housing’.”

uway-audience-100616

Agencies represented (not all are UW funded agencies) in the room included, ARC of Lane County, Volunteers in Medicine, Planned Parenthood, Lane County Human Service Commission, Kids in Transition to School, Oregon Social Learning Center, Salvation Army, Lane Independent Living Association, Boy Scouts of America, Parenting Now, Looking Glass, Centro Latino Americano, Direction Services, Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County, City of Springfield, Community Sharing of Cottage Grove, HIV Alliance, YMCA, FOOD for Lane County, Goodwill Industries, St. Vincent DePaul of Lane County, NEDCO.

 

Trend on Eugene’s Relaxing Homeless Camping Enforcement

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

The Eugene homeless camping enforcement trend can be seen here.

Disapproval for Relaxing Eugene Homeless Code Enforcement

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Do you approve or disapprove of the City of Eugene relaxing code enforcement on homeless camping?

For complete poll results, click here.

Clackamas County looks to join Lane County in housing homeless veterans. by Pat Farr

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

 

I spent the day this past Monday with Clackamas County Commissiones Martha Shrader and Paul Savas sharing the details of Lane County’s success with Operation 365 housing homeless veterans. I received this “Thank you” message (which I pass along to Kitty Piercy, Terry McDonald, Pearl Wolfe and all of the men and women here in Lane County who made placing 404 homeless veterans in housing possible, drawing national attention). Thanks Tena Olsen for delivering this:

Thank you from Clackamas

“I would like to express my appreciation to Commissioner Pat Farr! I want to thank you for reaching out to my Clackamas County Commissioners and discussing Veterans Homelessness. On Monday everyone was impressed with your vast knowledge of your Program that your County has done with Homelessness. I look forward to continuing this relationship and to future meetings with both you and Clackamas County. Again, I want to express my gratitude for your time that you spent with my County Commissioners and H3S on moving forward with a program here in Clackamas County.”

I am looking forward to helping Clackamas and other counties with their commitment and success housing homeless veterans.

Eugene Homeless Code Enforcement Approval

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Do you approve or disapprove of the City of Eugene relaxing code enforcement on homeless camping?

For complete poll results, click here.