Eugene residents voice concern over growing homeless crisis

Nearly two years ago, Mayor Lucy Vinis promised the city's homelessness crisis would be greatly improved within 18 months. But many Eugene residents KEZI spoke to said they feel like that has not happened.

Posted: Mar 5, 2021 8:01 PM

EUGENE, Ore -- Nearly two years ago, Mayor Lucy Vinis promised the city's homelessness crisis would be greatly improved within 18 months.

But many Eugene residents KEZI spoke to said they feel like that has not happened.

Ryan Barnes works at Metalworks, one of the many businesses on Arrowsmith Street. He said the camps don't put businesses in the area in a good light and that theft is a major problem.

"They cut the fence going through the back which obviously is a cost incurred by the company every time you have to fix that," Barnes said. "We've had a number of things stolen from parts to an actual vehicle last week, so it's pretty frustrating."

According to those who live and work in the area, the street is often loud and many buildings have been forced to buy expensive security systems.

Another camp has been growing across the street from the César E. Chávez Elementary School.

Some community members in the area said they are concerned about the camp's close proximity to the school as well as their residential neighborhood.

"I don't walk that way. I don't ever walk that way," said Dottie Shiloh, who lives in the neighborhood. "I see it out my window, but I don't ever walk that way. Anywhere I see it, I walk the other way when I walk my dog because there are things on the ground that I don't know what they are necessarily."

KEZI reached out to Vinis for an interview, but she was unavailable.

On Feb. 26, the mayor released a blog post addressing the topic of homelessness in Eugene. Click HERE to read that post.

When the pandemic started, the city temporarily adjusted its camping policies to support the homeless during the pandemic. This included a ban on the removal of campers to prevent them from having to move to different locations frequently.

In response to community outrage over the ban, the city lifted the ban on camping except in riparian areas, playgrounds and schools, and neighborhood parks.

A spokesperson for the mayor said the COVID-19 pandemic derailed the mayor's original homelessness response plan. She also said the CDC's guidelines impacted the number of beds available at local homeless shelters.

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