Homeless Campsites on the Council Table – Eugene Weekly

At Eugene’s city council working session on April 12, Deputy City Manager Kristie Hammitt and Director of Public Works Matt Rodrigues presented a six-month plan that would provide new campsites for homeless people.

The plan would bring together staff from all city departments to work with partners to identify sites for tents and car camping sites. Rodrigues said they hope to establish 300 tent campsites across four to eight sites, with groups of up to 40 tents per site, as well as two to four car campsites with up to 60 vehicles and 200 spaces in the camp. total. “We know it’s a big boost, but we think it’s really what we need to start moving in a different direction,” Rodrigues said at the meeting.

Hammitt said tent campsites, car campsites and camping response are expected to cost between $ 6.1 million and $ 9.6 million over one year, and between $ 5.2 million and $ 6.1 million. dollars in annual costs.

The city is considering both public and private ownership for sites that may be for sale. Potential funding resources include $ 750,000 from the general fund for FY22, $ 600,000 ($ 400,000 for outreach and $ 200,000 for navigation services) from a fundraising plan which the board will discuss at the meeting. its working session of April 26, and $ 3.5 million requested in public funds for the acquisition of land.

“Our intention in offering these options is to make sure people have meaningful places to move so that we don’t stay in this particular temporary situation longer than necessary,” Hammitt said.

Councilor Alan Zelenka told the meeting that previous community surveys have shown a lack of support for the council to spend money on the issue, but local homelessness has “become serious enough for them to support it. now”. Homelessness is a symptom, he said, while the problem is the lack of affordable housing, mental health services and access to addiction treatment services.

Councilor Mike Clark expressed concern at the meeting that the plan does not address homeless people who choose not to seek shelter. Most homeless organizations and advocates call the idea that many people are homeless by choice a myth. Clark suggested living in an “open opportunity” instead of illegally camping as a condition of sentencing, saying, “I would like to have a more in-depth discussion with our municipal judge on how to hold people truly accountable so that let them not just ignore the opportunities that we have created here, but rather we are compelled to seize some of them.

The council voted unanimously to ask City Manager Sarah Medary to schedule a hearing on the ordinance for April 26.

Councilor Emily Semple supported the proposed ordinance, adding that she has “so much frustration with what goes on every day both in the West and in WJ [Washington Jefferson Park] and more on the 13th, and I know the public too. And I don’t know what the answer is to that, but I know people are desperate to see us do something.

Residents who provided public comments expressed concerns about incidents they saw around homeless camps, including theft, drug use and harassment of clients and homeless people in neighboring camps. .

The full recording of the working session is available here, and the council meeting that followed can be found here. The agenda covered a new appointment to Eugene’s Human Rights Commission, as well as ordinances adopting charges for the use of hazardous substances, amending the Eugene central plan, and addressing the ‘clear’ approval criteria. and objectives ”for housing.


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Sally J. Minick

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