New microshelter sites offer relief

Eugene's new microshelter sites have become the newest landscape for providing services to people experiencing homelessness.

Posted: Jun 20, 2020 6:43 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- After respite shelters for the unhoused closed in Lane County weeks ago, microshelter sites have become the newest landscape for providing services to people experiencing homelessness. These private shelters reduce the need for residents to move around the community, which thereby limits the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“To have something that they can call a semi-permanent home is a great step up for them,” said local resident Cody Fuqua.

Microsite residents sign an agreement to abide by the rules of the site, with zero tolerance for violent or threatening behavior, or alcohol or drug use onsite. By doing so, they’re gifted with all the amenities inside the blue gated fence.

“They give us a toilet to use, a handwashing station and a kitchen with an icebox, pantry and stove,” said Neal Berry, who’s lived in the microshelter since Wednesday.

Berry prefers these new quarters a lot more than the previous shelters he was at.

“People were constantly bothering me, especially the police. It’s a form of bullying,” said Berry. “Community members who are prejudice or against poor people harass you. [This microsite] is invaluable for preventing that.”

The city’s first microsite was established at Skinner City Farm, near Washington Street and Cheshire Avenue. People staying there are completely secluded from the neighborhood. Residents don’t seem to mind at all.

“No, they’re quiet,” said local resident Bob Sullivan. “They have to be because they don’t want to screw up what they got. They got a good thing going.”

City staffers are actively looking seeking additional sites, exploring both private and public properties.

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