Homelessness is a complicated and ongoing problem not only for Eugene but for many communities across the country. The City of Eugene has a long-standing demonstrated commitment to helping to address homelessness needs. We have increased that commitment over the last year by opening two rest stops and Opportunity Village, creating a total of more than 60 legal camping spaces in Eugene. The City has agreed to a third rest stop location that would add 15 more sites and we hope to finalize an agreement with the site operators as soon as today.
Last week, the City re-posted notices that the property is not open for public use of any kind and that clearing and clean-up of the area would begin after April 1, 2014. The City Council has directed the site be closed no later than April 15.
Today, we are clearing that site. This has been a long and ongoing process that began last September when the site was first occupied illegally. Since that time, multiple notices and warnings have been given to campers. The City’s goal all along has been and still is for people to leave the site voluntarily and to get connected with the services they need to find safe and legal shelter.
Throughout the process, a number of services have been provided. Those include a police liaison who has met with camp representatives on a regular basis, and CAHOOTS and other social services that have been checking in frequently at the site in coordination with City staff. We have encouraged campers there to utilize other options available to them such as the Eugene Mission and have actively worked to connect them to services.
Even as we close this illegal camp, we will continue to be as compassionate and helpful as possible, including transporting and providing temporary secure storage for property and continuing to help people find services.
The Eugene Mission and the expanded car camping program managed by St. Vincent DePaul are also available to campers in addition to other social service venues on a case-by-case basis. The Eugene Mission currently has a number of spaces open for men and for women.
The City has tried to compassionately consider the needs of vulnerable community members while also balancing the health and safety needs of the entire community. We have developed a number of programs and innovations and are actively pursuing others. It is important that we come together as a community and work for more comprehensive long term solutions. The City will continue to work diligently with our local, state and national partners to find resources and develop options for dealing with the complex issues related to homelessness.
Eugene City Manager