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Handling Homelessness Across the Nation

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EUGENE, Ore. — One doesn’t need to go very far to find signs of homelessness in Eugene. Panhandlers seemingly stand guard at just about every corner. On any given night in the state of Oregon, 15,828 have no place to call their own. Of that, 1,751 are in Lane County.

Lane County spends about $8.3 million a year on homeless services. $2.1 million comes from the City of Eugene to fund a variety of homeless and sheltering services like the city car camping program and most recently, rest stops. But in the middle of budget crisis, the money spent or not spent on homeless services is often scrutinized.

KEZI 9 News Reporter Nha Nguyen takes a look at how other cities across the country compare when it comes to dealing with the societal issue of homelessness.

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  1. Randy Cain says:

    Thanks to KEZI 9 News´╗┐ for putting this piece together. It’s one of the most comprehensive and objective stories I’ve seen on the subject. Something to keep in mind, though..it’s not about “curing” homelessness, as their will always be homelessness. It’s about providing safe and legal places for our homeless to sleep, without fear of attack from others….or arrest or citation from the Eugene Police Department and City of Eugene Government´╗┐.
    Again, thank you, KEZI :D

  2. Joe Z says:

    If I was a story editor at KEZI, I would have left out the opening line “Panhandlers seemingly stand guard at just about every corner.” This really turned me off, because I know that not every panhandler is homeless. Maybe 99% of them are– I don’t know, but neither does the reporter. I don’t think that connection should have been made. The story could have stood on its own without that statement. IIn fact, think the rest of the sotry is very well done. It’s just too bad that opening statement kinda turned me off from the start. I personally know two people who do panhandling around Eugene, and are not homeless. They don’t really need to do it to survive. They brag about how much they can collect on any given Saturday. They love Eugene because they know the City is going to tolerate it more so than elsewhere. Again, I am not questioning the problem of homelessness, just the connection made in this story with panhandling.

  3. Jeff Albanese says:

    I believe there is an error in this report. The sentence about the city of Eugene’s spending on homeless services makes it sound as if public funds are being spent on rest stops. The ordinance authorizing rest stops specifies that rest stops must operate at no cost to the city. Neither Lane County nor the city of Eugene provide any financial support whatsoever to the two operating rest stops.

  4. David Strahan says:

    Several mis statements made here. Flying a sign is often taken as a sign of homelessness, often untrue. It’s a sign of economic failure. Failure of medical system, failure of housing regulations and failure of proper tax management.
    Mi would love to see the breakdown of how ‘City of Eugene’ spends 2.1 million on homeless costs… Given how hard it is to even get city council to agree on a acceptable location for a Rest Stop, I find this figure hard to swallow. Quite a bit of pr spin I think by news media.

  5. David Michael says:

    Thanks to KEZI for an excellent newscast, video and research into the homeless problem that surrounds Eugene as well as other cities in the country. It’s amazng to me how little other reporting agencies in the newspaper or TV realm, do in-depth programs and educational articles on the homeless.

    As a person who has always been able to work in my chosen professions for nearly five decades, it’s difficult for me to understand the roots of the problems in dealing with the homeless. It’s one thing to see the older men, especially veterans in particular, on what seems nearly every street corner in Eugene. But when young women and men hang out with signs asking for handouts, I am totally mistified and puzzled.

    One of the weaknesses of this video, is that there is no reporting of viewpoints from the homeless themselves, the middle class (such as my own family), or the more wealthy segment of society. When I visit Folsom, CA, as an example, and I see no homeless at all in a vibrant, sunny, upper middle class community that exudes material success, I asked several people what happens to the homeless, and the answers have been, “Easy, the police bus them to Sacramento.” I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I do know that there is a huge problem in the larger cities of the Northwest and in Sacramento. Obviously, the homeless migrate to areas where the local community will house and feed them.

    The problem is so acute in the Eugene area, that it reduces the livability of the city for the rest of us. Safety is a huge concern here. My wife and I have been rushed into by angry panhandlers, visited by angry women who take our food on a family picnic at Alton Baker Park, and otherwise suffer feelings of a general lack of safety on the streets in general. What to do? is a monster question. To be honest I don’t know what to do. One is to bus them all to Salem and let the state representatives figure out the solutions. Another is to set up housing and food shelters, as they propose today in Eugene and Olympia. But in the end, it seems this is attacking the symptoms and not the root causes. The gist of the video and my own feelings, is that this is an enormous problem with few good solutions that are supported by a working society that struggles just to keep their own families secure, healthy, and vibrant in their own houses with a 30 year mortgage.

    Like it or not, I do not like to see the homeless on every street corner in my city when I had to work to support my own family on a daily basis over 40 years. Call it what you want, they have become a blight on the city. If I had witnessed this kind of problem 30 years ago when I moved a small business here, I would have moved elsewhere. I am being real here. But…I don’t have a solution to these problems and I want to acknowledge KEZI for their excellent reporting. And to those, who dedicate their time and efforts to finding a set of solutions that will benefit all of us in this town of Eugene, we call home.

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