EUGENE, Ore. – The Eugene City Club hosted a virtual forum Friday that addressed issues surrounding the homeless crisis and police reform.
When addressing the homeless, Vinis touched on some of the projects they are working on right now, like converting the former Veterans Affairs clinic on River Avenue into a 75-bed shelter. The mayor also discussed the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the state and federal funds they used to help them find alternative housing and resources.
However, she said there is still a lot to do, but it will take time.
“We are behind and it takes time,” she said. “What say about this is that we really holding in our parks and open spaces and streets the legacy and decades of neglect."
Vinis said she’s also looking toward the future. She said she hopes to continue to connect with the homeless population to get a better sense of what is needed, as well as continuing to advocate to the county about expanding outreach programs.
"Please recognize the structure and the budget of the city government that you have,” she said. “We have police and public works to address this issue. We do not have this level of social services in our city structure."
As for police reform, Vinis said the city is trying to consider community input as much as possible.
She said the city has always been committed to improving public safety, based on all the reform policies they have passed over the last 15 years.
However, she said she understands things have changed since the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
“The whole public safety systems, the reform, they're urgent, they're important, but it takes time to get it right,” said Vinis.
She said they are working with groups like the Ad Hock Committee on Police Policy to draft recommendations for the city council.
Vinis said they expect to see those recommendations sometime this spring.