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Eugene moving forward with homeless shelter after GOP walkout stalls bill

House Bill 4001 would have declared a statewide homelessness emergency and give money to cities for shelters and lift restrictions temporally where they could be built.

Posted: Mar 6, 2020 6:52 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – The City of Eugene is still moving forward with plans to open a new homeless shelter after Oregon lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would allocate $5 million for it, Mayor Lucy Vinis said.

House Bill 4001 would have declared a statewide homelessness emergency and give money to cities for shelters and lift restrictions temporarily where they could be built.

Vinis said the City of Eugene’s plans call for a 75-bed low barrier shelter and navigation center so people can get off the streets.

She said they plan to have it open in the fall but don’t have a location set.

“It changes the timeline a little bit, perhaps for full implementation,” Vinis said. “Mostly, I think for us, it creates a little bit of uncertainty.”

The bill had bipartisan support, but because of the Republican's walkout over the controversial cap-and-trade bill, the funding bill never got to the House floor for a vote since lawmakers didn't have a quorum.

RELATED: OREGON LEGISLATIVE SESSION CUT SHORT OVER GOP WALKOUT

Vinis said she’s hoping lawmakers make it a priority during a special session or next year’s session.

“It is deeply frustrating,” Vinis said. “We need to have, even a short session, we need to make progress because the challenges we face happen year after year after year, we can't take a break.”

Senator James Manning of Eugene and Junction City said he supports the bill and he's not giving up hope that it's not gone for good.

“I will continue to fight each and every time in order to relieve the cause of the unhoused,” he said.

The Oregon Legislature's Joint Emergency Board will meet Monday to provide funding for a response to the novel coronavirus, flood damage in Northeast Oregon and other critical needs.

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