EUGENE/SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Eugene gave St. Vincent de Paul $50,000 this year for its overnight camping. That money runs out in December–a time when there’s more demand for safe, legal, temporary housing.
There are about 50 sites in the Eugene-Springfield area that are part of the St. Vincent de Paul overnight parking program.
With the current threat to funding, some families might never have found a temporary place to call home.
Christy Gray has been a strong mother for more than 25 years, providing a solid financial foundation for her family. She says she never imagined homeless would be in her personal vocabulary.
“Really scary adventure in the beginning, for the first time, you know, we had a stable family. I never went without a job and we never went without a home,” Gray said.
According to the Director of St. Vincent de Paul, the initial struggle of homelessness can be rough for many people who find themselves searching for shelter.
“You have no legal place to lay your head down. You may have a vehicle, but that vehicle can’t be just parked anywhere and left…and the result of that is is that for many families, they spend most of their time trying to find a safe place to be,” said Terry McDonald, St. Vincent de Paul Director.
“We would have had to move every day somewhere and hope to have the gas to do that or make sure that our vehicle was even running,” Gray said.
The parking program allows someone like Gray and her family to be legal and safe. They’ve had a roof over their heads all summer, and she says a resilient teenage daughter doesn’t hurt.
“It’s her that has definitely been stronger than me. You know it’s hard on a teenager not to wake up and have a shower available every day,” Gray said.
Gray says she can’t imagine where they would be without the program.
“It saved me, you know…We don’t have to move to a different shelter every night,” she said.
She’s also learned about herself and what it means to homeless.
“Being homeless doesn’t mean that anybody is a bad person. Being kept down can create a bad situation, but people are human and desperate to survive,” Gray said.
With nearly 50 camping spots in the Eugene-Springfield area, St. Vincent de Paul says that desperate need to survive is still not being met, and the deadline of the city’s funding will add to that struggle.
“Two months from now it’s winter, and during that period of time we don’t want to wait to do something,” McDonald said.
St. Vincent de Paul says it plans to bring the funding issue back to city council sometime very soon before the winter months strike and more than 100 families have to be turned away.