'Housing First' project in Eugene hopes to open by 2020

The 35,000-s.f. complex off of Martin Luther King Boulevard will feature 50 studio apartments and on-site supportive services.

Posted: Aug. 13, 2018 6:39 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – A unique housing project aimed to help serve the chronically homeless is getting close to reaching its funding goal.

The 35,000 square foot complex off of Martin Luther King Boulevard will feature 50 studio apartments, 24/7 on-site supportive services and be on the same property as the Lane County Behavioral Health Campus.

“I think about this project as really our flagship effort around permanent supportive housing,” Karen Gaffney, director of Lane County Health and Human Services, said.

Using a "housing first" approach, Gaffney said, the project is designed with the homeless in mind. Those who are struggling with addiction and other issues will be housed before getting treatment. Once they're there, they can take advantage of programs such as drug treatment, mental health counseling and others on-site.

Gaffney said in their pilot efforts they've seen a decrease in arrests and health care costs.

“For those people who are most hard to serve this is what other communities have done,” said Gaffney. “And actually, it's what we have tested in our own community as being the most cost-effective strategy and ultimately get them engaged in services.”

Gaffney said tenants will be selected based on a vulnerability assessment and those who put the most strain on law enforcement and emergency.

Steve Ochs with Lane County Housing Authority, called "Homes for Good," said they are still working to get the $12 million to complete the project, but said they are close to their goal. Ochs said the money is coming from a number of sources including the state, grants, and local healthcare providers.

Developers hope to start construction in the summer of 2019 and have it completed by the fall of 2020.

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