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'Seattle is Dying': Eugene reacts to film on homelessness

The film, "Seattle is Dying," takes a hard look at homelessness.

Posted: Mar 27, 2019 6:35 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 6:37 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A documentary that takes a hard look at homelessness in Seattle is sparking conversations about the topic right here in Eugene.

The film, "Seattle is Dying," is an hour-long special by Seattle ABC News station KOMO-TV.

Sheryl Balthrop, the executive director of the Eugene Mission, watched the film and said any exposure to the issues of homelessness is helpful to starting the discussion, but she said she's worried the film may cause people to lose compassion for homeless people.

"There are a number of individuals that do want to get better and that do need to have services that are simply not available," Balthrop said. "We as communities need to find a way to coordinate those services and reach out and have compassion."

Balthrop said she didn't think "Seattle is Dying" went deep enough into the complexities of drug addiction, which many people experiencing homelessness face.

According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as of January 2018, Oregon had an estimated 14,476 people experiencing homelessness.

Meanwhile, businesses on West 7th Avenue are upset by a homeless camp that they said has been off and on for years.

Mark Bruer of Essex General Construction said he's frustrated and saddened by having it in front of his office. He hasn't seen the documentary "Seattle is Dying" -- which points to possible solutions, including drug treatment in prison -- but said this isn't an issue that police can handle alone.

"We're not heartless, but it is a big problem that individuals cannot solve," Bruer said. "It's going take a pretty collective effort by the government, public-private efforts."

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