April 24, 2024

Whole Community News

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Second and Garfield to open this week; Council approves 3 more safe sleep sites

6 min read
One of the three new safe sleep sites is just south of the Second and Garfield site, which is opening this week.

One of the three new safe sleep sites is just south of the Second and Garfield site, which is opening this week.

With the LTD site about to open, the Eugene City Council approved three more safe sleep sites.

[00:00:06] Matt Rodrigues: Good afternoon, Mayor and Council. I’m Matt Rodrigues, the Public Works Director.

We’d like to give an update on safe sleep sites. Second and Garfield: It’s a five acre property that will accommodate up to 55 vehicles that people are currently using for shelter. We’re very close to opening the site. We’re expecting that we can have it open as early as October 4th.

Chase Commons Park is the other approved site, located between Commons Drive and South Garden Way. It’s planned to host up to 20 Conestoga huts. The site is currently in a holding pattern. We’re working hard to identify a service provider for the site and further engaging with the neighborhood and businesses to respond to questions and concerns.

So now we’re going to propose three new potential safe sleep sites for your consideration.

The first one at 2243 Roosevelt Boulevard, it’s owned by Square One Villages, it’s known as the Rosa Safe Sleep Site. This site has the ability to move up to an initial 30 spaces with eventual capacity of up to 40. Square One Villages has long-term plans to develop this 3.3 acre site for permanent housing.

The next site is known as Everyone’s Village. It’s on Dani Street. It’s 3.5 acres. The site could post up to 30 spaces initially and could be a mix of vehicles and small shelters. It would be operated by Everyone Village, which is associated with Pastor Gabe Piechowicz’s Everyone Church. The site has a longer-term vision as a workforce development and housing project that would be constructed in phases and supported by a coalition of local service providers and businesses.

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The last site is at 410 Garfield Street. It’s 2.88 acres, it’s privately owned, directly adjacent to the Second and Garfield approved safe sleep site. So it’s just to the south of it. It features a 27,000 square-foot building that could accommodate up to 90 tent spaces, as well as some area outside the building that might be suitable for pallet shelters, Conestoga huts, or some other vehicle camping as well.

[00:02:08] Councilor Alan Zelenka: I noticed there’s a big building there, an existing structure. Is the plan to have the tents be in the structure and the vehicles be in the parking lot. Is that the plan?

[00:02:17] Matt Rodrigues: Yeah. So we’ve been working with the Fire Marshall’s office to really understand what we can do as far as posting tents or other structures within the warehouse area and our understanding is that we could have, we set up to 90 tents in that warehouse which will . add some additional shelter from weather conditions, warmer environment. There’s a 1800 square foot office building that goes with it that would allow St. Vincent DePaul to house some offices and places where the case managers and other service providers to come in and meet people. And as you said, we could use some of the outside space for vehicles or Conestoga huts or Pallet shelters.

[00:02:59] John Q: The three sites, initially, will total a hundred and fifty spaces. They plan to do a lot more down the road. Assistant City Manager Kristie Hammitt.

[00:03:09] Kristie Hammitt: A lot of what Matt talked about today is really what we see as Phase One implementation for the work that we’re doing. Some of these sites eventually can morph into property that can be used for permanent supportive housing, affordable housing projects, or just really advancing the way that we provide the support on these sites for unhoused individuals. And so just kind of keep that in mind, cause I know these properties are large and we want to accomplish as much as we can on each of them.

[00:03:38] John Q: The three new sites were approved, with seven yes votes. The lone ‘No’ vote came from Councilor Mike Clark.

[00:03:46] Councilor Mike Clark: It seems there’s an assumption here in this policy that somehow building these sites will alleviate the camping problems that we have at Washington/ Jefferson and 13th and Chambers. I don’t see that we have policy in place. So I’m in favor of us creating safe sleep sites on a limited scale. I am very much against the idea of building more and more and more of them, without an equal effort to end the idea of unsanctioned camping. That’s the policy piece that’s missing for me.

[00:04:25] Councilor Randy Groves: Thank you, Christie, Matt and everybody who worked on this presentation. And I also want to give a special appreciation to Ed Russo for the work he’s been doing with our business community. It’s not just our business community that’s come together in West Eugene and working on this. The Churchill Area Neighbors have taken it upon themselves to repeatedly clean up garbage, needles, and trash that’s strewn along our bike paths. And Pastor Gabe, I shadowed him for a full day and he’s just phenomenal on his outreach and contact with our unhoused community.

Although it’s improved some in West Eugene and I appreciate those efforts, we need to figure out how we’re going to address the end game of this, once we do have adequate spaces out there. And I would really like to see a work session just on that issue alone of: How are we going to do this? What is the plan?

[00:05:21] Councilor Greg Evans: What relationships have we established with the school districts particularly around kids who are having difficulties being able to do their homework, getting to school, they may not have an iPad or another device to do their homework on. I know my daughter does her homework on her iPad. So do, how are we handling that? And are we having those discussions with the school districts, both 4J and Bethel.

[00:05:57] Councilor Claire Syrett: I just wanted to offer that for the school districts, they are required by federal law to have a homeless liaison. They’re called the McKinney Vento Coordinator. And so that would be the person that the City would want to coordinate with, if we had homeless youth at any of these locations.

I’m very excited that we’ve got an opening for our first site. And I guess I would say the fact that we have a full list of people who want to move in there actually points to the fact that if we open them, people will want to move in there. Not everyone, but obviously a significant number of people.

These sites are not a solution to our homelessness crisis. But they are a strategy to create legal, safer places for people that connects them to case management and helps them move out of homelessness, Leaving people to fend for themselves on our streets, sidewalks or in the bushes is not going to provide for that same kind of opportunity and improvement, both in the quality of life for our house d community members and those who are experiencing homelessness.

I would like to ask that counselors start getting documentation on the business and residential outreach that is done in their ward as we consider a site or when we decide to move forward with one. I have had more than one time where staff had said, ‘Oh, we’ve done outreach to nearby neighbors,’ but those same nearby neighbors tell me that they were never contacted. So, I don’t know if they got missed or someone came by and left a flyer but didn’t talk to them, but I would like us to receive some kind of documentation on how that’s being handled, who’s being spoken with, so that I can feel confident that work is being done.

[00:07:52] Councilor Matt Keating: It’s not going to hold me up from supporting the motions, but I would be strongly in favor of a full vaccination and masking requirement from staff and from folks who are utilizing the shelter.

[00:08:05] Councilor Emily Semple: This is fantastic stuff. It isn’t enough and we’re all really tired, but I do think that we just need to take a little pause here and say, wow, five sites. And I think it’s important that we all say thank you to each other and ourselves, that it’s been really hard, but we’ve made a really good stride and just stop for a minute, and say, wow, we’re doing great. And I want us to keep doing great and be even better.

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