Neighbors eye vacant Eugene church for homeless center

The 12,000-square-foot former church sits on a one-acre lot and was previously home to Westside Christian Church until it hit the market last year.

Posted: Oct 15, 2020 7:43 AM
Updated: Oct 15, 2020 10:57 AM

EUGENE, Ore. – Some residents in the Far West area of Eugene are petitioning city and county leaders to transform a vacant church at 18th Avenue and Chambers Street into a facility for the unhoused.

The 12,000-square-foot former church sits on a one-acre lot and was previously home to Westside Christian Church until it hit the market last year.

Vickie Nelson, who is part of the Westside Shelter Search Team that operates within the Jefferson Westside Neighbors group, said the building has the potential to provide a number of services for Eugene’s vulnerable population, including kitchen facilities, bathrooms, office space, classrooms and a large gathering space to seat up to 200 people.

Nelson toured the building several weeks ago and said the space could also serve as a rest stop, warming center, day center or emergency shelter. She pointed out that it is also near several grocery stores and bus stops, providing convenient services for potential guests to the site.

“As a society, we have to pull together or it's going to get worse and worse and worse. Having people sleeping in the alleys and streets is the worst thing,” Nelson said.

Another homeless advocate, Pamela Krause, said she agrees the facility would be a good idea to help address the unhoused problem in Lane County.

“I just thought this was a great point to start talking about possibility (and) options,” Krause said.

Nelson also acknowledged the idea could come with pushback from neighbors who may not want a resource center close to their homes.

According to the online real estate listing, the property is for sale for $925,000.

At least one Lane County commissioner responded to Nelson’s letter asking them to consider purchasing the property, and Nelson said her local city councilor has also expressed support for the idea.

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