ROSEBURG, Ore. – A Roseburg resident is up in arms after homeless people set up camp within miles of her backyard.
Sarah Black and her family live along the South Umpqua River. Across the river, she said she can see Gaddis Park and the homeless camp there.
That camp has reportedly been a problem for years and it has only become worse in recent months. She said the homeless people have moved into the terrain and they are using the trees to build makeshift forts for shelter.
“Instead of being able to look at the beauty of the South Umpqua River, we get to look at the disastrous mess the homeless have made across the river from us,” she said.
Black said she has reached out to the city for years regarding this issue. However, she said they have done nothing to help her.
“What is the next excuse going to be?” she said. “When are they going to be able to do something about it?”
However, Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich said there is nothing they can do about the camps right now. He said they are required to keep the homeless people in one place due to COVID-19, even if that means keeping them in the camps. He said it’s the best way to stop the spread among the homeless population.
“We’re right in the middle of a pandemic and this is what we have to do,” said Rich. “For the time being, we’re going to have to accept it.”
Rich said they are already looking at long-term ways to help the homeless.
He is the chair of the newly-formed Roseburg Homeless Commission. The commission is coming up with a plan to bring a permanent, low-barrier shelter in the next few years. They hope this shelter will help the homeless find permanent housing in the long-run.
“We saw the model in Medford,” said Rich. "They have a campsite, then they have the tiny homes, then from there you’re back in the community. So it’s progressive steps.”
However, Black said she will continue to pressure the city until something is done about the camp.
“We pay a lot of money to live where we do,” said Black. “People who are not contributing to society and not willing to, I don’t think it’s fair.”