EUGENE, Ore. — Supporters of the homeless campsite known as Whoville are once again upset with the Eugene City Council.
They say the site identified for a third rest stop is not acceptable.
The group held a press conference Wednesday at the Northwest Expressway and River Road site to explain why it would not work. Advocates read a letter to the crowd of about 25 people explaining why they think putting another rest stop at this location is a bad idea. Later in the day they delivered that rejection letter to city administrators, outlining all of their issues with this site.
At a work session on Feb. 26, the council approved the creation of a third homeless rest stop adjacent to the second one, located near River Road and the Northwest Expressway.
The second rest stop will open this weekend with Community Supported Shelters agreeing to act as operators.
“If they…force this to happen, we would not manage this site here. It would be just a recipe for failure,” said Erik Debuhr, Director of CSS.
Debuhr says he was shocked by council’s decision, and he’s not alone.
“Placing these two populations to what amounts to two adjacent cages would only magnify the potential triggering of PTSD,” said Michael Carrigan, CALC.
Having the two rest stops on the same land is just one of the many reasons homeless advocates are rejecting this third site.
“The Northwest site is remote. It does not offer adequate access to much needed services an amenities,” said mediator Jennifer Frenzer, JD.
They also say the lack of sidewalks and proximity to the loud, multi-rail train tracks and busy expressway are very dangerous for those with mental illness. One of the biggest concerns is the earthy and steep terrain.
“It’s clear to me that… anybody with a disability, anybody’s that bound by wheel chair or walker, this site is totally unsuitable,” said George Brown, Eugene City Councilor (Ward 1).
Brown was the only city representative at the press conference. He says he’s still absorbing the information but has new insight after visiting the location for the first time.
“This happens quite a few hours out of the 24. So, no this is not the ideal place. And yet, it’s better than nothing,” Brown said.
Brown says the council will have to make some big decisions this coming week, including possibly extending the April 1 deadline to start closing the current Whoville site at Broadway and Hilyard because after next week the city council will go on a one-month break.