July 13, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

HRC group monitors service gaps, questions city

6 min read
As one-time federal funding ends, critical homeless services are starting to shut down, with more losses expected in the Eugene ecosystem.

A human rights commissioner has questions for the city. On June 13th, Poverty and Homelessness Work Group Co-chair Blake Burrell:

[00:00:07] Blake Burrell: We’re kind of waiting on information in regards to the two-hour notice inquiry and kind of how that overlapped with some other work plan items that we’re working on…

[00:00:16] I have asked some questions particularly about different demographic groups that are experiencing notices and clearances… I work across multiple different demographics of individuals and what I often find is that especially here there are disparities and do we actually know at any given time if there is adequate shelter alternative, not just available in volume at the city level or the county level, but do we know that there’s an adequate shelter alternative for that particular member of society based off their demographic criteria…

[00:00:50] The inquiry sent forward had 24 questions that had sub-questions, so it will probably take a couple months for us to get that information back. But I think when we do get that information back, we will understand things like the city’s requirements based on federal statute such as Martin v. Boise, how it interacts with current amendments associated with House Bill 3115, what our obligations are for sheltering individuals, and making sure there’s shelter capacity based off demographic criteria.

[00:01:22] So that is all in the inquiry that we sent forth, sent forward with a non-established camping notice. If anyone wants access to that, it is in the Google Drive. It’s just called ‘Homelessness and Poverty Inquiry, June 1, 2023.’ I can send out the link to that so anyone can review those questions…

[00:01:41] But I think that whenever we do get an answer to some of those questions, we’re going to know what are our obligations for these more nuanced scenarios that aren’t necessarily outlined or addressed or as easy to address in a public meeting.

[00:01:53] Richard, what you got?

[00:01:55] John Q: The loss of onetime federal funding is starting to ripple through the community. KEPW News anchor and workgroup member:

[00:02:02] Richard Self: Couple of things here. I have an announcement. I believe it’s Corvallis, their men’s shelter is being closed down as of tonight permanently due to lack of funding, and it changed a lot of lives.

[00:02:16] Also, I don’t know where this all fits, but back in 1937, before most of us were even a thought, there was an act of the federal government that said, ‘We are responsible for the housing of every citizen in the United States.’

[00:02:39] They absolved themselves of that responsibility somewhere during or before the late ‘70s and ‘80s where all the affordable housing was taken away, as well as mental health institutions. I think some form of that, maybe on a local level, should be discussed at least.

[00:03:03] Blake Burrell: Yeah, thank you, Richard for that note about the shelter closing. And you said it was in Corvallis.  I, over the course of the next month, definitely ask everyone to kind of stay engaged in your networks on seeing what programs are going to be losing funding in our fiscal year.

[00:03:24] I can say from the provider space, there’s a lot of chatter, but a lot of programs are losing funding. A lot of your emergency orders from the state level have been applied towards providing new services, but not necessarily sustaining old services. And there’s going to be a withdrawal of funding as a result of some different funding streams that were brought to light during the pandemic era.

[00:03:51] So I would keep your eyes and ears fueled for looking at gaps in the crisis response system that are going to come about in the fiscal year and over the next month. Because I think that we’re going to see some pretty valuable services lost in the Eugene ecosystem, from what I have observed. And that is everything from services to personnel to programs.

[00:04:13] I can’t speak to any that I personally know about until they’re made public. But there are quite a few within multiple providers in the community, not just providers that I work with. So keep your eyes peeled on that. There’s probably going to be some room for dialogue and some populations that are going to be impacted by that.

[00:04:33] Richard Self: Are you familiar with the Lane County ‘All In’ program that’s got at least $15 million in the kitty?

[00:04:41] Blake Burrell: Yeah. I’ve read a little bit about it, Richard.

[00:04:42] Richard Self: That might help alleviate some of these things, but then again, money is never used for what it’s supposed to be used for, like saving that poor shelter. Just, it gets to me because not only have advocates been saying this for a while, but cities have been harping on the state of Oregon because they need to sustain the funding for things like safe sleep sites and et cetera. And so there you go.

[00:05:10] Blake Burrell: Yeah, thanks for bringing that to light. And I think that’s a nuance of this, is really understanding some of the nuances of how different programs are funded and financed and how that kind of aligns with different political agendas or different ideas that pop around the legislature.

[00:05:26] I think that if we see big reductions in service, in different areas, I think if we can track that information and provide comment on that, that can hopefully, I think a way that our body can participate in government is advising that, ‘Hey, we’ve seen this reduction in service and we would like to not have that type of funding reduced in the future,’ or ‘If funds were to become available that we reallocate different funds towards different programs or approaches to homeless prevention.’

[00:05:54] But yeah, there’s a lot of federal dollars. It’s just over the next month we’ll find out where they all end up going…

[00:06:01] If we can be the eyes and ears and indicate where there’s gaps in service or different things might come about, then we can do what we can within the scope of this group.

[00:06:12] John Q: Richard also raised another topic.

[00:06:14] Richard Self: We’ve talked about this before. The city attorney when asked (and I will do this again and I will beat this horse to death because I’m very upset about this), when asked where could people go to camp, she said that was technically impossible to provide that information. And also she didn’t say that they won’t provide that information ‘cause they don’t want the people that are out there to head that direction and go there.

[00:06:50] So I would like to know for in the future, from anybody, where people can go. The city of North Bend has figured it out. Other cities and counties around the area in the state have figured it out. In response to House Bill 3115 only Eugene failed to provide this information, and I believe Springfield is involved as well, though we don’t have jurisdiction there, but I’d like to know. We’ve talked about this before.

[00:07:25] John Q: The meeting started with a warm welcome for the voice of Sam Broadway, Richard Self.

[00:07:29] Workgroup members: Very glad you can make it, Richard. Yeah. Happy to see you. Absolutely. Welcome, Richard. We want to support you. Absolutely. Thank you.

[00:07:38] Richard Self: Well, I’m here in spirit.

[00:07:42] Workgroup members: You’re hearing more than spirit and we appreciate it, Richard. Thank you. Yeah. You’re a big part of this group, Richard.

[00:07:48] Richard Self: I appreciate all the sentiment there. I do what I can.

[00:07:53] John Q: Providers expect service gaps as onetime funding ends, Richard Self asks where survival campers can go, and a human rights commissioner waits for answers, after posing 24 questions to the city.

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