Business owners and residents react to downtown shelter

Laura Hamond with city of Eugene said the city hopes to have the shelter up in a week or so and said it will be funded mostly through money set aside for community safety.

Posted: Oct. 23, 2018 5:50 PM
Updated: Oct. 23, 2018 6:32 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Business owners and residents are reacting after the Eugene City Council voted 7 to 1 in favor of a temporary downtown homeless shelter on 7th Avenue and Pearl Street.

RELATED: EUGENE CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO MOVE FORWARD WITH TEMPORARY HOMELESS CAMP

Laura Hammond with city of Eugene said the city hopes to have the shelter up in a week or so and said it will be funded mostly through money set aside for community safety.

City leaders said at this time they don't know how much it will cost.

Hammond said with so many homeless people already downtown and the city owning the property, the location made sense.

"They are already using the streets and the parks,” Hammond said. "This provides a service where they can actually come to and get needed services, get connected to services, hopefully get on a path out of homelessness."

MORE: EUGENE OFFICIALS PROPOSE TEMPORARY HOMELESS SHELTER AT OLD CITY HALL LOT

While Hammond pointed out that many of the adjacent properties near the location are owned by the city, KEZI 9 News reached out to downtown business owners to find out how they feel about the shelter coming to downtown.

Of the more than dozen business owners we reached out to, Noodle Bowl Downtown owner JC Lee was the only one willing to talk on camera.

Lee, whose business is near 8th Avenue and Pearl Street, said he supports the shelter as long as the city can keep it safe and make sure the homeless don't interfere with his business.

"We are a family restaurant. We have kids come in and families come," Lee said. "I hope this is a good environment for me to operate my business."

KEZI 9 News reached out to the Eugene area Chamber of Commerce, but at last check hasn't heard back.

Geoff Ostrove, the president of Downtown Eugene Merchants, said in a statement they are concerned about maintaining a safe consumer experience for residents or tourists visiting downtown.

"While we absolutely support the city's efforts to decrease homelessness and drug use in our community, we want to make sure these efforts are done in a way that doesn't derail some of the positive changes taking place downtown," Ostrove said.

He hopes to hear more from the city about how they plan to implement this shelter.

"The homeless people are people too,” Lee said. “It’s part of our community so I want us to take care of them.”

Meanwhile, commenters on the KEZI 9 News Facebook page have had mixed reactions.

Some were not in favor of the temporary shelter, citing concerns:

Others were supportive of the idea:

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