EUGENE, Ore. – Advocates of the unhoused are bracing for the possibility of a big surge in the area’s unhoused population when a statewide eviction moratorium expires in July.
St. Vincent de Paul Executive Director Terry McDonald called the eviction mortarium expiration a ‘sleeping giant’ because of its potential to unleash a torrent of people onto the streets.
“The question is where do people who have ruined their rental history go when they know they can't rent in this community anymore?” McDonald said.
That possibility could throw a wrench in the steady success the organization is seeing at finding people permanent housing.
“In the last couple of months, we've moved about 60 people out of homelessness out of the various programs that we have and into permanent housing. And they're sticking, and that's the good part,” McDonald said.
While homeless camps appear to being growing in size around Eugene, McDonald said there are actually more shelter options available than ever before. He said capacity is expanding through more pallet houses, overnight safe housing programs, Dawn to Dawn and safe parking programs.
“We're housing more people now than we did just a few months ago,” McDonald said.
Homeless camps might be more visible than before because the City of Eugene has relaxed its rules around urban camping to accommodate social distancing and reduce the need to move around the community. But McDonald said those rules could tighten again as the unhoused are vaccinated, which is happening right now.
“If you have an unhoused population that's fully inoculated, then the opportunity to be more restrictive on what happens in terms of their non-housed situation becomes available,” McDonald said.