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Emotions High as Council Returns

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EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene City Councilors returned from summer break to some tense and frustrated people, many with the SLEEPS group, who spilled into their first council meeting.

More than 50 people signed up to speak at the meeting and more than two dozen talked about homeless issues. Many talked about the pressing need to ease camping restrictions as the calendar creeps closer to winter.

At one point during the meeting, one of the people who signed up to speak climbed onto the table set aside for public comment and yelled at the councilors, “We will not leave until everyone has a safe place to sleep.”

Mayor Kitty Piercy immediately called for a break, rushing councilors into a back room. When they returned she urged the people speaking at public comment to be respectful.

Councilor Alan Zelenka understands that emotions can spill over, but urged people to be patient.

“We can’t solve the problem all at once,” said Zelenka. “If I could snap my fingers and have it go away, I would. But we can’t. So it’s what incremental steps can we take to make this better.”

The city didn’t take any action at the meeting. Councilors are considering another pilot program that would allow people to sleep at a rest stop. That’s scheduled for later this month.

There’s no immediate plans to address the camping ordinance.

35 comments

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  1. Glenda says:

    These people need to have a safe place to sleep but I don’t see it at rest stops, although that’s a good idea since they have restrooms, but travelers would then be leery of stopping at the rest stops. Kind of a catch 22.

    1. Kay says:

      They don’t mean interstate rest stops. They mean a specific pvernight set-up that they’re calling “rest stops”, based on the “Right 2 Dream 2″ model in Portland, which has been quite successful.

  2. Tank Commander says:

    Why not take some of that money for the Eugene Celebration and use it for this instead of having an annual “slug queen?” Better yet, how about making a deal with all these banks that foreclosed on people and now have all these empty houses; make some homeless folks the “caretakers” of these empty structures with a portable toilet in the back yard and trash service until the house is resold. Have a property management company that takes care of the lawn and garden needs check the interior on a regular basis to ensure the house doesn’t get trashed. That would be a start.

    1. don jones says:

      naw, first of all, Eugene Celebration is not run by the City of Eugene.

      Second, why should tax payers purchase houses for people that don’t want to contribute to society? If they get a free house, complete with free property management and free maintenance and free improvements, why don’t I get that same deal?

      In case you haven’t noticed, SLEEPS destroys and wrecks everything they get their hands on. Lets see… how many hundreds of thousands of dollars were wasted at Wash / Jeff Park? $200K? $300K?

      SLEEPS waste money like no ones business, because they have no investment in our society, they just take what they can,steal and destroy the rest because they think tax payers owe them.

      I don’t owe you jack crap!

      1. Bonniezmom says:

        I don’t blame her one bit. While not exactly PC, an understandable thing to do when one has been ignored.

        Don Jones, I don’t owe you jack crap either, but my taxes help pay for lights on your street and other infrastructure. Many of these people, including the one who stood on the table, have jobs, and she is a student as well.

        1. jason marks says:

          well, unless you own property within the city limits, you probably don’t pay taxes towards the city. Unless you would like to specifically say where your “tax dollars” that you pay come from and go to.

          There is no city tax and a supposed job doesn’t pay them.

          And we have heard dozens of people say they are students, they hang the signs at the Federal Building, next to the those who say they are veterans, but can’t produce a card to prove it, next to those who likely have a criminal record and warrants and hide behind “wizard of oz” fictitious names.

          Well, how credible is that, anyway?

          I know for a fact you don’t pay my street lights, but okay, we’ll go with your scenario.

      2. Kay says:

        They haven’t wrecked anything. The only thing that has arguably been “wrecked” was the butterfly lot, and those people weren’t from SLEEPS. SLEEPS has left the Plaza, the Fairgrounds, and River Road in perfect condition. The River Road parcel was actually cleaner when they left. I live in the area and can tell you that first-hand.

        1. Eugene too says:

          People are still in all of those locations, at river road they just moved across the street and they have been stripping trees of their branches, and you can’t tell me that it is safe for railroad operators to have them camped that close to the tracks on a steep hill.

      3. Kay says:

        And I believe the cleanup cost for Washington/Jefferson was only 20K, which is around the same amount that the parks department spends restoring the park in the springtime every year. Meanwhile, crime plummeted downtown, saving the taxpayers a lot of money. Social services were also less strained because Occupy was feeding everyone and providing medical care. Overall, that camp saved you money, trust me.

      4. Erik says:

        I agree 100%!!! Though as far as I’ve known the City od Eugene does handle the celebration…

  3. Joseph Newton says:

    I am disappointed in this coverage approach. There were almost 40 speakers, most of whom used their brief minute well and respectfully. Why this prejudicial focus on one person [who, BTW, was instrumental in creating a schism within the SLEEPS community] who let her frustration spill over into rude behavior?

    Please seek less drama, and more respect in your reportage. I would note that I, watching over the live feed, posted an apology to Ms. Piercy’s FB page immediately following this incident. I was a strong supporter of the URD extension that led to the LCC Downtown Center, and an equally strong supporter of highly visible protests such as the SLEEPS encampment.

    1. Joseph Newton says:

      Just to clarify the above: there were 60 speakers, and about 40 of them spoke in behalf of the constitutionally-protected [9th Circuit] right of the homeless to exist without harassment.

  4. Cynthia says:

    that is one way to get what you want.. show total disrespect.. thats the problem with those people they have no respect.. they want everything given to them.. they obviously don’t understand the concept of getting a job and taking care of themselves. but when we have a government that just hands stuff out, people do tend to get lazy and refuse to work.

    1. Joseph Newton says:

      Cynthia:

      1. That was one individual among about 40 speaking out for the homeless.

      2. You clearly are speaking from ignorance when you talk about jobs. Long before the super-rich crashed our economy, our Federal Reserve was already manipulating it to ensure that there was always a currently-desired level of unemployment. I say un employment as in percentage of those actively seeking work and not finding it.

      As one who emerged from college with two honors degrees, on in a field with a 60+ percent washout rate [Computer Programming at LCC] then spent over five years serving the Science Division of that school, providing full-time tech suport coverage in ajob whre I was never allowed to accrue over 1039 hours in a year, I can tell you–people get lined up 100 deep for a single job. This even holds true for crappy minimum wage jobs at fast food joints.

      You are cutting your own throat, unless you have major investments in abusive enterprises. Just because you are now fat and happy doesn’t mean you won;’t be the next to be dumped at some corporation’s convenience.

      1. Cynthia says:

        you know nothing about me, please don’t assume you do.. and i dont’ really care if you dont like what I said.. IN MY OPINON and in others opinions what she did was disrespectful,

    2. Kay says:

      That woman has a job. She is also a student. She has two children. She is anything but lazy. And she has every right to be angry. She’s on the street with kids and can’t get ahead. She doesn’t want anything “given” to her. She just wants to be able to sleep on public land. That’s not a radical concept. The city and county allowed people to sleep on public land from the founding of this city until the 1980s. The idea of being able to sleep on the commons dates back for as long as we’ve been recording human history. She’s not asking for much. She just wants a better life for her and her children, and its impossible for her to achieve that due to current social and economic conditions unless she has a safe place to sleep.

  5. Christian says:

    I think this is fairly ridiculous. While I understand that these people are in fact people…they in no way contribute to our city. I grew up here. I’ve seen businesses in the downtown area come and go mostly thanks to herds of “mall rats” camping on their doorsteps and likewise using them for restrooms. It’s depressing to think that our city has so much potential but instead of focusing on what can and WILL make Eugene strong we bicker back and forth over the lives of people that made their choices. As I mention earlier I grew up here, I’ve known people (at the time freshmen in HS) that made the conscious decision to live downtown because “it’s like a constant party” and “all the drugs you can handle.” I feel that every time the city stops to wipe the collective bums (no pun intended) of the cities homeless we’re just distracting ourselves from real issues. I agree they need places to live…so go out and find one. STOP EXPECTING EVERYONE ELSE TO MAKE YOUR PROBLEMS GO AWAY. YOU MADE YOUR BED NOW SLEEP…SOMEWHERE!

    1. Joseph Newton says:

      “Christian”, you are missing something. Kids who have had any examples of genuine and sustaining values very rarely make such decisions. There are many from “respectable” families who do. I would not argue with that. Well, there is often much that does n ot meet the eye, particularly the superficial eyes of the judgmental.

      There are others who have been on the streets from early teens because in both ttheir homes and foster care, they experienced rank abuse. They run to where they can find people who will treat them decently–which may not accord with your concept of decency, but at least includes kindness and concern for their feelings.

      I’m not sure if yo label yourself “Christian because you’re afraid to stand up for your viewpoint, or because you are under the illusion that you are a folloower of Jesus Christ. If it is the latter, I would remind you that the first public sermin Jesus delivered started with the words “Judge not that you shall not be judged.” You clearly seem to fail to grasp the concept, and in so missing the point, you yourself constitute a serious drag on your community and the Web of Life that whatever Creator there may be created.

      1. Ahshucks says:

        Joseph Newton I say take your sermon BS and peddle it somewhere else. These people are loser’s and imposter’s that want a free living. Screw them and you for supporting such scum.

    2. Kay says:

      Really? You made your bed? That’s what you’re saying to homeless single moms and combat veterans? You know nothing of their contributions. That mother has a job, she pays taxes, she goes to school. Why cast judgment when you don’t know the facts?

      1. Cynthia says:

        Veterans can go to the VA and there are shelters for single mom’s

        1. Kay says:

          No, they can’t. The shelters for moms are full, and the VA has a waiting list for housing.

        2. Kay says:

          No, they can’t. The shelters for moms are full, and the VA has a waiting list for housing.

        3. Kay says:

          No, they can’t. The shelters for moms are full, and the VA has a waiting list for housing.

  6. Are you employed sir says:

    I’m a business owner, I am currently hiring for a book keeper, a skill which you can learn at the library for free. Most people want to make $15hr, for my entry level positions it is almost impossible to find someone who will work for $10hr. Semi skilled positions are asking $25-$50hr.

    There isn’t a jobs shortage, there is a motivation / ambition shortage.

    If these people really wanted to make a difference, they would spend their free time cleaning the streets down town, clearing blackberry bushes by the river etc. Gaining the communities respect. Instead they sit there, waiting for a handout.

    1. MaryAnn says:

      @Are you employed sir:

      You would likely not employ someone who learned bookkeeping at the library and had no fixed address . At least, I have trouble believing you if that’s what you are saying. If that sounds like I am stereo typing you, well I suspect I am a bit. Like the homeless get stereotyped. This isn’t to say the stereotypical homeless scoundrel doesn’t exist, but scoundrels exist in every group, including bookkeepers and small business owners – and Internet commenters. You normally wouldn’t paint these groups with such a broad brush.

      PS – yes I’m employed. Like that makes me special.

    2. No Name says:

      Your comment is unbelievable. I hold a degree in accounting and I work for a non for profit making a little less than 15 an hour. And you know what? They would have never hired me for skills I learned at the library, never. And do you know how hard it is to find jobs in accounting in this city? Basically impossible.

    3. Soleil says:

      How can you get a job if you have no place to sleep and you’re struggling to survive? Are you really going to hire someone who can’t shower daily, who carries their possessions on their back, who is constantly exhausted from lack of sleep?

      And they do clean downtown! I saw them out there just today. They leave every place cleaner than they found it. They also help other people in need. The SLEEPS folks have also been lending a hand to the police when they’re looking for suspects.

      1. Double T says:

        Soleil,

        Also there is Occupy Medical, which has doctors and nurses going out to the sleep camps to assist. There are also people that volunteer to help make sure the places are cleaned so the City will not feel overburdened with cleanup.

  7. fed up says:

    Eugene cannot solve the nation’s homeless problem on our own. If we try, more and more and more will come here and enjoy the services we provide. Soon we’ll have 10’s of thousands of homeless.

    How many of these Sleeps people are actually from this area? Probably none. Their burden does not need to be solved by us!

    1. dan the man says:

      You hit the nail on the head. As a person who has volunteered in homeless outreach situations and got to know some of their stories, one quickly learns that a large percentage are from outside the area.

      What many people seem to forget is that “Homeless” by definition means you could be living anywhere. The reason one settles in a particular area is due to the services provided for you. The day you provide for every homeless person in Eugene is the day when several new ones will migrate to the area . . hence there will STILL be a perceived problem.

    2. Soleil says:

      Most of them are from this area. I’ve talked to lots of them. Those who aren’t originally from here have lived here for a while. Only a few of them are travelers.

      And we don’t provide a lot of services. We have a lot of underfunded agencies that can’t handle the load. I know this for a fact as I tried to get services through nearly all of them when I was homeless. And their budgets have been cut more this year than ever before.

  8. hippie says:

    I’d just like to ask 1 question to any/every one reading this,…..when you were growing up, how many kids do you remember saying,…..” when I grow up I want to be homeless!”,…or better yet,…”when I grow up I want to be a drug addict!!”,….I don’t know about any of you,…but as for me? I NEVER heard that!,…nor did I ever say that as a kid….however,. I did become a drug addict, and I became homeless. Wasn’t what I wanted, but that’s what happened. I’m 12 years clean off drugs however,….It DIDN’T happen overnight!. Most ARE trying, but remember,. it’s a lot of work just to survive on the streets……and one more thing just for ALL the religious folks out there,…JUSUS was homeless as well,…is/was that ok?

  9. hippie says:

    ,……………..just 1 more thing to for ya’ll to ponder,….for those who have, house, car, job, health, etc. just remember, it could be you out there in your tent. It only take’s one bad thing to happen,…..car crash,…..house burns,….break your leg skiing,. lose your job,….all of these things can happen in a blink of an eye,….are you prepared in case it does? I hope so…….I don’t wish homelessness on anyone,….even you!!!….so maybe instead of bitchin’ about the problem,…HELP FIND A SOLUTION!!!!…..that doesn’t include jail/tickets

  10. Thin That Herd says:

    I want to thank the table hopper, and the head kicker. They have outted sleeps for what this group really is – anti-social misfits that can’t sleep at the mission because they can not follow any rules.

    It’s obvious, these sleepers have zero desire to make this community better, its all about them, and their inability to follow rules. It is like they were raised by wolves, or something.

    I say, thin that herd. Throw some dollars from a roof & see who survives.

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