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Low-barrier shelter at River Avenue site gets green light

The State of Oregon has committed $5 million to the project.

Posted: Jul 21, 2021 11:42 AM
Updated: Jul 21, 2021 5:25 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Lane County's long-discussed plan for a low-barrier homeless shelter and navigation center at the former VA Clinic on River Avenue has been approved.

The facility was purchased by the county in April 2020 and was used as a respite shelter for people with COVID-19 through this June. Once renovations are complete, the building will be used for immediate shelter and navigation to other housing resources for 75 homeless people at a time.

According to the county, state law allows local governments to open emergency shelters without land-use approvals, which is the process that allowed the plan to be approved. A contract to renovate the building was also approved in June.

Renovations are expected to cost upward of $3 million and operations are projected to cost $2 million. The State of Oregon has committed $5 million to the project. 

To secure funding, the shelter must open by July 1, 2022. Before then, the county says it must get input to develop programming and the architectural design of the building, select a provider and train staff.

The City of Eugene and Lane County have long pointed to strained shelter capacity as a limiting factor in their homelessness response and said the low-barrier shelter will serve a key role in opening more beds and connecting people experiencing homelessness to resources.

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