BREAKING NEWS Springfield man arrested, accused of trying to murder roommate Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Eugene Mission takes measures to protect homeless seeking shelter

Office space is being repurposed as small-volume dormitories where the space between beds has been expanded.

Posted: Mar 23, 2020 1:29 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene Mission is taking steps to ensure the health of its residents amid the spread of coronavirus.

According to executive director Sheryl Balthrop, staff have made big changes to proactively observe public health guidelines, protecting their guests and the broader Eugene-Springfield community.

Office space is being repurposed as small-volume dormitories, where the space between beds has been expanded, as opposed to residents all sleeping in the same large room.

At-risk residents have been separated, and meal times have been spread out so that the most vulnerable eat first. The mission is open around the clock throughout the crisis to ensure that guests have a safe and hygienic place to be. 

According to Balthrop, around 30% of the mission's guests are above 60, and many others are immunocompromised. Though many fear the homeless population could spread the disease, she believes the community is most at risk.

"There's a lot of stigma that's being attached to unhoused people as vectors where actually they are the folks at risk. If they were to contract the virus, they would not have the resources to self-isolate or get the medical care that they need," she said.

As of Monday, the shelter was at capacity and closed for day-use. Instead, the mission is delivering food and services directly to those who need it.

“We are hoping that the rest of the community also looks at other sheltering options. But there aren’t too many. Basically a few folks are providing shelter and thousands of folks are without shelter,” Balthrop said.

Some mission staff have set up cots and beds in their offices, staying on site around the clock. Balthrop believes that this crisis is a time for hard work and compassion.

“I think we all need to keep very soft hearts and realize that we need to support them even in this difficult time. Sometimes when we are fearful we stop supporting the folks who are the most vulnerable," she said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 12438

Reported Deaths: 237
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah296672
Marion189354
Washington189221
Umatilla10418
Clackamas100628
Malheur4002
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Lane3093
Deschutes2680
Yamhill2059
Linn18210
Jackson1810
Polk17912
Jefferson1680
Morrow1541
Klamath1381
Wasco1171
Benton1156
Hood River1060
Douglas640
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Columbia540
Coos540
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa150
Baker120
Curry90
Sherman50
Gilliam20
Harney20
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00
Eugene
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 52°
Corvallis
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 55°
Roseburg
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 56°
North Bend
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 52°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events