Senate Housing Committee Pat Farr testimony June 5 2020. by Pat Farr

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Senate Housing Comittee virtual meeting June 5, 2020

Chair Fagan, Committee, thank you conducting this public hearing. I am Pat Farr, Lane County Commissioner, North Eugene and former State Representative HD 14. I was Executive Director of FOOD for Lane County for three years. My pronouns are he and his

I am going to give positive news in a tiny snapshot about opportunities that have allowed Lane County to mover forward with our long-term strategies surrounding housing and homelessness. Lane County has developed strong partnerships with adjacent jurisdictions and nonprofits. You have heard from John Van Landingham, Emily Reiman and Jacob Fox, all of whom are significant partners in Lane County efforts.

Lane County’s Health and Human Services divisions began work early in the outset of the COVID 19 spread on the west coast. We are a county that is constrained by the fourth lowest tax rate of all counties in Oregon and the second highest acreage of land owned by the Federal Government. Over the past six years we have paid attention to building strong reserves and a structurally balanced budget

Which allowed the Board of Commissioners at the COVID outset to authorize the County Administrator to spend up to $5,000,000 without separate Board approval to respond to the health and human service needs of the pandemic. The $5m has been drawn from Lane County reserves and we are confident in state and federal assistance to help cover replacement of the reserves.

We have a history of working closely with our partner jurisdictions, the cities of Springfield and Eugene, with Homes for Good as well as our unusually strong coalition of local nonprofit agencies to address needs surrounding poverty and homelessness. Our already-in-place team structure allowed us to act quickly.

Lane County, like other west coast counties, has a high proportion of men and women and families living in homelessness or in housing challenged conditions.

We have been considering sites to locate low barrier shelters and have worked toward that end.

In April one of the sites became a clear choice to be utilized as a temporary respite for people displaying symptoms or actually having been diagnosed with COVID-19.

We spent $1.8 million out of reserves to purchase the former VA Clinic on River Avenue in my district with a very short turn around. This is how it happened: On Sunday a small group of county officials joined the property owners and listing agents along with me, Senator James Manning and Rep Nancy Nathanson to look at the building. It has separate sleeping and sanitary accommodations for a large number of private suites. Steve Mokrohisky acted quickly and prepared a Board Order authorizing the real estate transaction for Lane County to buy the propery at the regular Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday. It took only three days to authorize purchase.

With extensive help from the Corps of Engineers, acting with FEMA authority we fast-tracked renovation and had the facility ready to house as many as 36 patients in separate accommodations within three weeks.

That facility is open now and available for COVID-19 respite.

After the COVID emergency the building will be repurposed as a low barrier shelter and navigation center designed, equipped and staffed to deliver people from homelessness into permanent supportive housing.

On another level, Lane County quickly acted to open a portion of our Fairgrounds and Expo Center to accommodate up to 140 non-symptomatic unhoused people and in a separate building as many as 20 symptomatic quarantined individuals. We also funded a smaller facility in Springfield to house up to 30 individuals who were non symptomatic.

Last week the Board of Commissioners authorized transfer of a portion of our fairgrounds to Homes for Good to develop permanent supportive housing for families, typically single mothers with children. That is coupled with our facility that is under way on Lane County Property adjacent to Autzen Stadium, MLK Commons, that will have 51 housing first apartments with 24-hour wrap around service.

In summary, Lane County is able to move with haste because of the strong partnerships that have been developed with adjacent jurisdictions, private business and nonprofit agencies. We have a long-standing intergovernmental human services commission and a Poverty and Homelessness Board to coordinate application and distribution of grants including the Continuum of Care grant.

Permanent Housing for Women and Children. by Pat Farr

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Lane County’s Poverty and Homelessness Board has a goal of adding 600 new permanent supportive housing residences.  A 0.72-acre parcel of County property at the Fairgrounds (1.34% of current fairgrounds property) is under consideration for donation to the Homes for Good housing authority as a small step toward that goal.

The orange rectangle at the top right of this picture is fairgrounds property that may be returned to housing.  The red perimeter is the entire Lane County Fairgrounds.

If approved by the Lane County Commissioners, the Housing Authority would add 16-20 apartments that would be permanent residence for 32-60 women and children.  The board will discuss the matter at its January 28, 2020 public meeting, which starts at 9 am in Harris Hall.  Action may be taken at its next board meeting on February 4, same time and location.

Homelessness in San Diego, Houston, Lane County has similar faces. Tony the Movie is a must watch. by Pat Farr

Friday, June 7th, 2019


On June 6 2019 I joined an audience of perhaps a hundred at the Bijou Arts Cinemas to watch a screening of “Tony the Movie” at the invitation of Reverend Wayne Martin.

Tony the Movie inspires watchers to take action

The movie follows Tony Rodriguez, a homeless man in San Diego, through days and weeks of his life.  He accompanies a news reporter to other cities to see first-hand how chronic homelessness has been addressed in those communities.

As the movie progresses, watchers are shown examples of how regional action committees have been established to provide effective housing to transform homeless support systems.  “Housing First”, Permanent Supportive Housing, has proven effective across the nation to efficiently and humanely end the cycle of homelessness for people with behavioral health conditions.  Lane County’s Poverty and Homelessness Board is such a “committee.”

The audience included housed people who are excited about finding solutions in Lane County as well as people who are living on the streets.

Wayne Martin asked for impressions after the movie and heard a number of quotes, including these:

“I get off work at 2 in the morning and then I need to find a place to sleep.  The stress builds up inside me, and all the money I earn is used to just survive…”

“I have a home now.  A lot has been going on here in the last 12 months…”

While the movie elicits deep emotion as you watch Tony trying “to live in society” while working, storing his belongings daily and being moved along regularly, it also gives a ray of hope and anticipation of how Lane County and its cities are pro-actively working together to help men and women and families “live in society.”

You can watch the movie here.  


The recently concluded “TAC Report”–a shelter feasibility study–has given birth to an action plan that will include strategies with short- and long-term tactics to “Transform our Homeless Support System.”

If you are interested in seeing, hearing and reading more please contact me via my public email at , please reference “Tony.”  I will give links and lists of how plans are being laid to make an immediate difference and tie future solutions to existing efforts.

Lane County’s strong commitment to housing and shelter is demonstrated by its Housing Improvement Plan. by Pat Farr

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

In 2018 Lane County Board of Commissioners, in its budget process, allocated $2,000,000 to its newly formed Housing Improvement Plan (HIP).

Lane County and the Homes for Good Housing Authority are partnering to break ground on this 51-apartment housing first project, The Commons on MLK, adjacent to Lane County Behavioral Health campus.  It is one of five permanent supportive housing projects recently funded in part by Lane County’s Housing Improvement Plan.

On January 12 the board gave $1.5m to five local housing projects that had been selected through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

The announcement the Board of Commissioners posted in 2018 stated:
“Lane County hereby solicits applications from cities, public agencies, private foundations, non-profit charities, healthcare organizations, affordable housing developers and supportive services providers for planning, development, and construction of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). Applications may include new construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of existing units for PSH. 

In addition to Permanent Supportive housing needs, Lane County recognizes that housing affordability is a significant countywide issue, particularly as it relates to the diversity, supply and affordability of housing options. Therefore, the County will also consider proposals that offer solutions to the broader challenges of housing affordability and that designate some of the units for PSH.”

The projects selected are directly tied to the Lane County Strategic Plan and the Poverty and Homelessness Board’s Strategic Plan.  The Poverty and Homelessness Board’s Governance Charter guides its ongoing work.  The PHB charter and strategic plan lay within Lane County’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan.

The projects selected for funding by the Board of Commissioners are:

  • Tiny House project, $200,000: Permanent supportive housing for individuals with criminal histories vulnerable to homelessness due to a shortage of affordable housing available to those with felony convictions. Five duplexes will be built to 10 people to live in on property adjacent to Sponsors’ Roosevelt Crossing facility. Sponsors will own and manage the units, offering below-market rents. Construction is slated to begin this spring.
  • Polk Apartments expansion, $550,000: Permanent supportive housing for 10 former foster youth who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. A mix of studio and single-room occupancy units will be added to an existing complex that currently houses 12 former foster youth for a total of 22. NEDCO owns the property and will manage the units. Construction is set to begin this fall.
  • Cottage Village project, $500,000: Thirteen tiny houses will provide affordable housing for those with low incomes (under 50 percent of median income) or very low incomes (under 30 percent of median income). The community will be built by SquareOne Villages and operate as a limited-equity housing cooperative. Construction is slated to begin this month.
  • Legion Cottages project, $250,000: A joint project of the American Legion, City of Cottage Grove and Homes for Good, it will develop four tiny homes to serve homeless veterans referred and case managed by the St. Vincent de Paul Vet LIFT program, which serves homeless veterans dually diagnosed with substance abuse and mental health issues. Construction is slated to begin this fall.
  • The Commons on MLK, $500,000: Fifty-one units of permanent supportive housing primarily targeted toward chronically homeless individuals who meet Frequent Users Systems Engagement criteria. Lane County also has transferred property adjacent to Lane County Behavioral Health to Homes for Good for this project. Construction is scheduled to begin in June.

These projects help fulfill goals of the HIP that include:

 Seed and incentivize a community effort to build Permanent Supportive Housing and to increase the supply of affordable housing in Lane County.

 Spark investment and leverage other public and private sector partners.

 Move quickly, with clearly defined outcomes, budgets and timelines to catalyze shovel-ready projects.


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

Friday, January 4th, 2019


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.

Operation Welcome Home will inspire housing for homeless veterans. by Pat Farr

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Welcome Home Oregon Veterans.

The signed declaration committing to seeking an end to veterans homelessness in Oregon

Here in Lane County we are redoubling our efforts to provide housing and services to homeless veterans. I’m proud to have represented our county and cities at Operation Welcome Home’s launch last Thursday. As usual, Lise Stuart and our Veterans Team are looking far into the future to find innovative ways to serve our military heroes today… Read more here.

Operation Welcome Home centers the goal of ending veterans’ homelessness and uses Lane County’s and national best practices and clear goalposts to advance that goal.

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.


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.

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

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

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:

Operation 365 Veteran Homelessness website with links to partners in the project that housed 404 homeless veterans and their families in 2015:

St. Vincent DePaul of Lane County Veterans’ Housing Project website, providing houses and apartments to veterans and their families:

Stellar Apartments includes 14 units for families of deployed National Guard soldiers and homeless veterans:


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


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.


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’.”


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.


Homelessness can be reduced–and Lane County has a plan to do it. by Pat Farr

Sunday, August 28th, 2016


The Poverty and Homelessness Board (PHB) provides advice to the Board of County Commissioners and the intergovernmental Human Services Commission with the goal of reducing and preventing poverty and homelessness in Lane County.

Operation 365 was part of the Poverty and Homelessness Board's strategy to reduce homelessness in Lane County.

Operation 365 was part of the Poverty and Homelessness Board’s strategy to reduce homelessness in Lane County.

It assists the development of the delivery of housing and services to meet the specific needs of people who are impoverished or homeless improving their stability. It assists to maximize the allocation of local, state and federal funds made available for this purpose. It serves as the administrative board for the Lane County Community Action Agency and as the oversight board for the Lane County Continuum of Care.

On Thursday August 25, 2016, PHB Chair Pat Walsh, PHB member Mayor Kitty Piercy,  PHB Staff Steve Manella and Pearl Wolfe joined me in a discussion with Register Guard Editorial Board Jack Wilson and Ilene Aleshire about the makeup and strategies of the PHB.  They published an article in Sunday August 28, 2016 Register-Guard:  “Intractable, but not impossible” which gives the reader good insights about the PHB strategic plan to reduce homelessness in Lane County.

See the entire PHB Strategic Plan here.