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Highway 99 homeless camp holds public open house

Community members were invited out to the camp to get an inside look at what the camp is like, what they need and see how they could possibly help.

Posted: Nov. 24, 2018 7:28 PM
Updated: Nov. 24, 2018 11:48 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Highway 99 homeless camp has now been up and running for nearly a month, giving around 100 homeless campers a safe place to rest.

On Saturday, the public got to see the inside of that camp at an open house.

The hope of the open house is to increase the visibility of this camp, as well as the awareness of homelessness.

"I think it's going to open a lot of people's eyes," said camper Bob Foster. "That's what I'm hoping and praying for."

The open house, organized by the Community Alliance of Lane County, or CALC, wants to give the public an inside look at organized homeless camps in Eugene.

"We want people to see that this is a wonderful and a safe camp," said CALC member Michael Carrigan. "It's a self-managed camp. It's the un-housed in our community coming together and saying hey, we can run a safe spot, and we're doing it."

Advocate Wayne Martin with Homeless Empathy Action Team, or HEAT, said what needs to happen is representation.

"We need a homelessness commission with highly-trained and designated people who can both sit on that commission and represent the staff in a professional way," Martin said.

For now, campers on Highway 99 just hope that this open house will start a conversation.

"If they look at this, maybe this will open their eyes to say, hey, we can do this on this property, hey we got some empty property at our place," Foster said. "Let's do this."

Members of the community like Bethel resident Barbara Prentice think it could do just that.

"I think the concept of a camp in every ward is really something that needs to be bet," Prentice said. "I think that once people see it, it becomes less scary."

If you would like to help out at any of the camps around the Eugene/Springfield area, you can follow this link to sign up.

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