Creating More Safe Places to Sleep
The Eugene City Council on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 approved an ordinance to create more safe and lawful places for people to sleep. The ordinance allows for the temporary establishment of “safe parking” and “safe tent” sites that could provide options for individuals to legally park their vehicles or sleep in tents. These sites will accommodate a larger number of vehicles or tents than previously allowed by code, up to 60 vehicles or up to 40 tents. The sites will be managed by social service providers who will be responsible for compliance with rules and community agreements, monitoring who is allowed to be on-site, coordinating ongoing site infrastructure needs, being accessible and responsive to neighbor concerns, and coordinating with the City and other partners.
The ordinance would remain in effect until May 1, 2023, unless extended.
Washington Jefferson Park
102 gridded camp spaces remain. Site monitors have addressed around 10 new, unapproved campsites per day, but was able to refer many of those people to St. Vincent de Pauls’ Dawn to Dawn site. City staff and partners will begin planning for the eventual transition of occupants to the Safe Sleep site at 410 Garfield St. once it opens.
Note: Removal of campers may be suspended when freezing weather is forecasted.
Site closed January 18. 46 occupied, recognized and pre-existing camp spaces remained at the start of the transition period January 10. The spaces were occupied by 56 individuals who were known to be regular occupants of the site.
All the known, recognized occupants were offered a space in the St. Vincent de Paul hoop building (37 spaces, pictured right) or Dawn to Dawn beds (unlimited, to accommodate all known occupants not using the hoop building) at the Highway 99 site. The hoop building was filled to capacity, and the City and SVdP not only offered the Dawn to Dawn beds to the other occupants, but worked on a variety of alternatives. Details on how those people transitioned from the temporary camp:
Of the 56 people, 37 accepted hoop building tents; 12 went to other shelter programs or other temporary alternatives; two accepted Dawn to Dawn beds; four refused the SVdP opportunities and left on their own; one person became ineligible for relocation after being arrested on domestic violence charges.
No enforcement was required during the transition of occupants and closure of the site. St. Vincent de Paul staff and City staff worked collaboratively to inform and work with occupants, help with packing and sorting, and provide transportation off-site. The relationship that had been built between site monitors and occupants was crucial in helping the service provider, and developing helpful outcomes for occupants.
Since the 13th Avenue site is now secured and posted as closed to the public, police can act immediately on any trespassing (no issues have occurred yet at the closed site). Police, Parking Services and Public Works continue to monitor areas near the closed temporary camp for unsanctioned camping, and also stand ready to respond to reports in the neighborhood. Parking Services Neighborhood Services Officers patrol through west Eugene daily, and proactively engage with vehicle campers on the streets about City rules and expectations.Interested parties in the local community, including media and the Eugene School District and Caesar Chavez Elementary School, were given information about the transition and site closure.
By creating the additional sites, those individuals currently camping in Washington Jefferson Park, 13th and Chambers, and in vehicles in West Eugene, will be prioritized to occupy legal spaces to sleep that are managed and have services to ensure health and safety.
The original plan to establish 200 “safe parking” and 300 “safe tent” sites was shared during an April 12 City Council Work Session. In establishing the safe sites collaboration is key. A critical partner in providing safe places for the unhoused is the local service provider network. City staff have been meeting with social service providers to understand provider capacity to support new sanctioned sites. With any large-scale problem, collaboration and coordination across the community will be critical. City staff have been working with Lane County, private property owners and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce to identify locations to establish the new temporary safe sites.
The ordinance is part of an overarching strategy to address the impacts of unsheltered homelessness. There will be a public hearing on code amendments for on street parking regulations on June 14.
The City continues to work with Lane County and partners in the community to find safe places for unhoused community members, including the newly established microsites, additional Rest Stops, overnight car camping sites and in existing shelters. However, it is still the case that many people experiencing homelessness are residing in Eugene’s parks, natural areas, and right of way areas for the time being.