EUGENE, Ore. — Some residents are rejoicing to hear that their neighborhood won’t be housing the homeless anytime soon. Eugene City Council members reached that decision Wednesday afternoon.
Eighth Avenue and Mill Street is one of the undeveloped city parcels still in the running as a potential site for a pilot program allowing overnight camping for the homeless.
The city council said no Wednesday to testing spots in any residential area or close to schools. And that was just one part of a continuing discussion on what could be done for this demographic.
Wednesday was the fourth meeting in an ongoing discussion that the City of Eugene has been a part of for quite some time. And while each member of the group understands the need for help, they indicated it could not be done alone.
“The city is not responsible for the crisis of homelessness. This is a national issue, and I believe that agencies, institutions and individuals must be engaged in finding temporary and longer term solutions to this crisis,” said Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett.
That is what they hope this pilot program will allow them to do.
Motion after motion, they decided to lift the sunset on Conestoga huts, create a sort of database for communication between the needy and the help, and jumpstart work on a camping program, not near residential areas or schools in what councilors hope will be a group effort with the community.
“That’s kind of what this pilot program does. It partnerships with some entity, a private entity, where they’ll provide the garbage, the toilets and the supervision for 15 people for 90 to 100 days over the winter,” said Eugene City Councilor Chris Pryor. “For me, it is important to recognize that we are a compassionate community…how can we channel that in a way that makes it effective and appropriate.”
Councilors said they hope the community will come together to find that solution.
When the pilot program can begin is not clear yet. At this point, before it can get its start, a public hearing will be held and the earliest that can happen will be September.