The City of Eugene is making progress on identifying and creating new, temporary managed sites where people experiencing homelessness can legally park their vehicles or sleep in tents to reduce the impacts of unsanctioned camping across the city. This week, the City and Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce staff have begun outreach to neighborhoods and adjacent property and business owners around potential sites to gather input on those possible locations.
On April 28, the City Council approved an ordinance that allows “Safe Sleep Sites” to accommodate more tents or vehicles than previously allowed by City Code, up to 60 vehicles and 40 tents per site. In collaboration with Lane County and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, staff have been conducting a comprehensive review of potential locations for sites including publicly owned property and private land.
In all, staff have reviewed more than 300 potential locations. Potential locations were generated by reviewing properties currently owned by the city and county, properties listed for sale or lease on public real estate sites and submissions from community members and elected officials. Criteria including accessibility, site size, shape, natural features, proximity to social services, public transit and other community resources were used to narrow the sites to the most suitable. An early list of 12 privately owned sites was further refined based on the criteria. Locations currently being reviewed for potential Safe Sleep sites include:
- 11th and Garfield
- W. 11th and Greenhill
- 151 River Ave
- 6th and Chambers
- 6th and Filmore
- 2nd and Cleveland
- Hwy 99 and Roosevelt
- 422 Stevenson Way
The City is also considering sites on publicly owned land including Chase Commons Park at Garden Way and Commons Drive, 2nd and Garfield, and River Road Station at River Rd. and Beltline. Additional sites will continue to be vetted.
With the outreach phase just beginning, staff have begun collecting additional information on these sites from the community. Working with the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, the City will continue reaching out for input from adjacent neighbors and businesses, service providers, and neighborhood associations. More information on the Safe Sleeping sites is available on the City’s website. There is also an email address where community members can share their input on the pros and cons of potential sites.
City staff held a series of meetings with social service providers to discuss site management, site amenities and layout, referral processes, and services for new sites. Discussions have also included management of the sites, which will be led by social service providers, and will include policies, procedures and staffing at periods throughout each day to ensure health and safety of residents and neighbors.
The Eugene City Council on Monday, April 26, unanimously approved a plan and strategies to address vehicle camping through parking restrictions in commercial/industrial areas. A public hearing on code changes to address vehicle camping in commercial and industrial areas of Eugene is scheduled for June 14. The City Council will hold a Work Session on June 23 to receive an update regarding safe sleeping sites, initial community feedback, and potential approval of a first round of sites.
Once Council approves a site, another round of outreach will be conducted to share information with neighbors and stakeholders on the site’s selection, its management plan, steps being taken to address concerns heard from the community, and contact information for the site.
Currently, the City anticipates opening the safe sleep sites by fall 2021. People staying at the two large temporary camps, 13th Avenue and at Washington Jefferson Park, will be prioritized and have the option to move into the new safe tent sites once they’re established. People living in their cars in industrial areas will have the opportunity to move into the safe vehicle sites.
Through the City’s partnership with Lane County, a number of other actions are also underway, including coordinated outreach efforts, adding permanent supportive housing units, engaging with landlords to increase affordable rental options, expanding rapid rehousing programs, and improving tenancy supports. These efforts, when implemented together, are intended to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.