As part of an ongoing effort dating back to early 2020, Eugene Police have been working with Pastor Gabe Piechowicz, and several unhoused individuals who had sought refuge on the porch of Westside Christian Church, 1866 Chambers Street. Piechowicz called for a meeting to get to know the group and better understand who they were, and says, “If I’m going to kick them off, because it’s private property, I’m going to know their names first.”
Once the group became too large, Piechowicz started working with Eugene Police Officer Tim Hunt and Community Engagement Specialist Janina Rager. An agreement was made, and a pilot program initiated to allow seven members of the group to stay on the porch in exchange for community service in the surrounding neighborhood. The group met every Saturday, cleaning store fronts, picking up trash, and working together with businesses, including Geico and Dari Mart. In response to the effort, the businesses supplied landscape equipment and portable bathrooms for the church porch.
Throughout the duration, the church had been for sale. It sold last week. The pastor and group have since partnered with Square One Villages, where the pastor now works. The group, who once lived on the porch of his church, are now currently in shelters at a City-owned microsite, and two members of the group have received housing at the new Commons on MLK apartment building through Shelter Care.