The City of Eugene will open its first Safe Sleep site Oct. 4, at 310 Garfield St.
The location was one of the first two sites to be approved by the Eugene City Council in late July, and this “2nd and Garfield” site is the first to open to occupants after an intense couple of months of planning and site preparation.
The goal of Safe Sleep sites is to provide safe, legal places for people experiencing homelessness to sleep and connect to services as well as reduce the impacts of unsanctioned camping across the city. Sites will be managed by social service providers and provide a space for people experiencing homelessness to legally park their vehicles or sleep in tents.
The site at 310 Garfield will accommodate up to 55 vehicles used for shelter, along with additional vehicles used by those residents for transportation. The five-acre property is owned by Lane Transit District, which will lease the site to the City at no cost for the first two years.
“We’re excited to have this first site open, as it will help provide needed stability for the people who will stay here and also reduce the impacts of on-street camping in the community,” said Regan Watjus, a City policy analyst focused on homelessness. “We’re grateful to be partnering with St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, whose experience providing shelter and services for people who are unhoused will help ensure the site’s success.”
St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVdP) will run the site, and the city will pay the annual operations cost of about $585,000. The City has also made investments to prepare the site, including grading, gravel, electrical, plumbing, fencing and structures to be used by residents and site staff. The site will have 24/7 staffing, and occupants have been contacted in advance by social service providers to prepare them for a successful stay.
“Operating a Safe Sleep site in partnership with the City of Eugene is a natural fit for St. Vincent de Paul as we continually seek collaborative ways to solve community-wide problems,” said SVdP Executive Director Terry McDonald.
The occupants of the site will mostly come from unsanctioned street locations in the west Eugene area. Several of the new Safe Sleep site residents have been staged on W. 5th Avenue east of Bailey Hill Road in preparation for transition to the new site.
At its meeting on July 21, the City Council approved the first two Safe Sleep sites at 2nd and Garfield and Chase Commons Park. The Chase Commons Park location, on four acres of City property and slated to hold up to 20 Conestoga huts, is on hold while the City seeks a service provider to manage the site and performs additional community engagement in the area.
Staff have reviewed more than 300 locations and closely analyzed dozens of potential sites. The City’s Planning and Development Department and Public Works departments will continue to evaluate potential Safe Sleep sites and return to City Council for approval as quickly as possible.
At its Sept. 29 meeting, the City Council approved three additional Safe Sleep sites, bringing the total to five. The three sites could eventually host up to 150 spaces for people experiencing homelessness. Locations include 2243 Roosevelt Blvd., 410 Garfield St., and Dani Street. City staff will perform additional community engagement around each of the locations, including sharing information with neighbors and stakeholders on the management plan, steps being taken to address concerns heard from the community, and contact information for the site.
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, in groups of up to 60 vehicles and 40 tents each, per site.
People staying at the two large temporary camps at 13th Avenue and Washington Jefferson Park will be prioritized to move into established Safe Sleep sites that accommodate tents or small structures. People living in vehicles in west Eugene will have the first opportunity to move into the safe parking sites.
Through the City’s partnership with Lane County, other actions are also underway, including coordinated outreach efforts, adding permanent supportive housing units, and expanding rapid rehousing programs. These efforts, when implemented together, are intended to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.
St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, Inc., founded in 1953, is the largest nonprofit human-services provider in Eugene. SVdP helps more than 55,000 individuals and families each year with emergency and homeless services, affordable housing, and self-sufficiency resources to help them achieve and maintain stability. SVdP already operates many existing programs providing shelter, food and other assistance to people experiencing homelessness and poverty. These include First Place Annex Night Shelter, The Youth House, Safe Parking Program, Egan Warming Center, and Dawn to Dawn congregate shelter with onsite medical clinic, The HUB. The local unhoused population navigates these and other services primarily through SVdP’s Eugene Service Station and First Place Family Center.