HRC workgroup asks why City stopped reporting on homeless sweeps4 min read
On the eve of the World Athletics Championships, local activists are worried that security forces are committing human rights violations. They also asked why the City stopped sharing information about homeless sweeps. At the Poverty and Homelessness Work Group, Julie Lambert.
[00:00:16] Workgroup Member Julie Lambert: Is there a way that we can be notified when there are sweeps?
[00:00:22] Workgroup Chair Heather Sielicki: We used to get reports on planned activities, and then there came a time when it stopped. And I’ll find out what happened to those and if the new iteration of Unhoused Response Team through the City will have that communication, but it is Kelly McIver’s primary responsibility through the City of Eugene to communicate what’s happening with homelessness.
[00:00:47] Workgroup Member Anne Milhollen: I would suggest we need to hear at least monthly. I’m a little concerned that during the world games, there will be a crackdown because they will want to put a good impression out for the, you know, the visitors to town. So we, I would think we need at least a monthly report, if not even the bimonthly.
[00:01:11] Workgroup Member Wayne Martin: What things beginning to happen, if not in the process of happening now that are not being discussed or publicly released regarding the movement of people right now? Additional burdens to people who are camping or staying near the reserves that are out in west Eugene? It’s a lot of people. And I think I’m seeing additional police activity out there.
[00:01:39] Workgroup Member Sarah Koski: The World Championships themselves are not going to be under the jurisdiction of the City. I’d love to ask who that jurisdiction is, who they’re contracting out for security and enforcement, who is the contact for the Incident Command? Is it just going to be private contractors or private security? How is that potential escalation happening? A big goal of mine is to see really how enforcement is going to happen during this time.
[00:02:09] John Q: Fabio Andrade said the City plans business as usual.
[00:02:12] Fabio Andrade, City of Eugene: The City has no special plan for dealing with unhoused community members during the event. They’ll still keep exactly the policies and activities we have in place now. So there is nothing planned to remove people so visitors cannot see homelessness in Eugene during that period. So the City is doing exactly what we’re doing right now.
[00:02:37] Workgroup Member Richard Self: There is no plans that ‘you know of’, like usual, that they always do to clear the streets of downtown, clear the streets on the Whiteaker, make sure that the homeless are as out of sight as possible as they usually do for such big events here. There is no plans ‘that you know of.’ However, I have a feeling it’s coming .
[00:02:59] John Q: City Councilor Matt Keating is the liaison to the Human Rights Commission. He said he recently spoke with the mayor about a new workgroup.
[00:03:06] Councilor Matt Keating: The mayor and I had a good conversation on Friday about the potential for an Accessibility workgroup. It’s something that I think has been done before and for whatever reason been dissolved. And it’s been impressed upon the mayor and myself that there are blind spots throughout our community when it comes to accessibility. And if the Human Rights Commission is the vehicle by which we could highlight those blind spots and correct accordingly, then I would welcome that work. And I hope it’s something that we could see unfold before the end of the calendar year.
[00:03:39] Workgroup Member Richard Self: Could you elaborate on ‘blind spots’?
[00:03:43] Councilor Matt Keating: There’s federal code for the amount of ADA-accessible units when you build affordable housing. Eugene meets that threshold, of course, but I would long for the City to lead on the issue and go above that federal standard to be ADA-compliant. Well, those are often— because it’s cost-effective to do so— on the ground level.
[00:04:05] And so Oregonians with disabilities are significantly limited in the number of units that they can rent, and they’re limited to be on the ground level. There’s such a dearth of opportunities for Oregonians with physical disabilities to have a great view.
[00:04:19] I’ve also met with mobility justice advocates; others in the community who are elected officials—Alicia Hayes on the 4J board—have communicated to the mayor a whole series of blind spots.
[00:04:30] John Q: The Human Rights Commission will look for answers at its meeting June 21st.