Three persons speak on behalf of ‘Hope Rides Again‘ during public comment Feb. 6 to the Lane County commissioners.
Edward Chartrand (Hope Rides Again): My name is Edward Chartrand and I’m with Hope Rides Again, and I want to say good morning and thank you for taking the time to hear me.
Last Saturday was a rough day. A couple of weeks prior, I found a note on the front door of the church. They told me a friend had been found deceased in his tent, and appeared as though he was sleeping. I made a terrible assumption that this had been reported and that our friend’s body had been taken care of. I was wrong.
[00:00:33] That Saturday, another of our homeless community came to me and reported the man’s body was still there. Nearly two weeks it had been. Representatives of the family searching for answers were here as well. So we went out to the camp and found it was true. His body was still there. This broke my heart.
[00:00:50] I don’t know when this picture will leave my mind. Another one, another human being dead in his camp with no one there. A family should never have to search for the body of their loved one on their own. The body of this man should have been reported. This was wrong on so many levels. I pray for our homeless.
[00:01:08] I pray for the family of this man, and I pray for those who are suffering home in homelessness or addiction will realize there are many of us with our hand reaching back to help them find a path of recovery. Recovery is possible. We don’t have to die hopeless alone, out in the woods.
I want to thank Commissioner David Loveall and the Lane County Sheriff’s Department for all they did to support the situation on this difficult day.
[00:01:33] I am a recovering addict. I shot dope for over 40 years; the last six years, homeless on the streets. Today, I’m a certified recovery mentor with four years, three months clean and sober. And my life is getting better.
[00:01:42] My story is this: I came to a point of desperation. I realized I was destroying my own life. I hurt everyone who cared about me, and I hurt everyone I cared about, yet I was powerless to stop. I thank God I came to that realization because then I, when I turned to God, He removed the obsession to get high today because I realized surrendering is what saved me. I surrender every day and ask God for the strength to stay clean and sober every single day, and to help me be a better man.
[00:02:15] God took all that wreckage and turned it into tools to reach back and help others. He put purpose to all this man that we found, like my brother and my father, and many other friends who have died homeless, hopeless, and addicted, I promise will not have died in vain. Losing them causes me to want even more to help anyone who reaches out find a path of recovery.
[00:02:36] Hope Rides Again is a nonprofit created to help bridge people off the streets. My hope is that the commissioners will consider helping me open a few houses, to provide immediate support to homeless individuals who will reach out for help with the willingness to get help if needed, and put down drugs.
[00:02:53] Each person can be assisted in connecting to resources that will lead to a path of recovery and self-sustained life. We need to realize the truth: Compassion without understanding the problem is enhancing the problem. We have got to put our focus on the solution.
[00:03:09] Lane County: Next up is Shilo Landers, who will be followed by Jennifer Ferraez.
[00:03:13] Shilo Landers (Hope Rides Again): Hi, my name is Shilo Landers, and I’m in recovery from methamphetamine and alcohol. My road to recovery has not been easy. Trying to find the help I needed was very discouraging. I was in a full meth-induced psychosis, suffering from auditory hallucinations that affected my perception of reality.
[00:03:34] I knew I needed help. I reached out to the local hospitals, twenty-one ER visits in four months. They would advise me to stop using drugs and send me on my way back out into the world. That was so scary. I felt defeated and alone. The hallucinations would tell me I was worthless, that I shouldn’t be alive.
[00:03:57] I contemplated jumping off a bridge or stepping in front of a car. I was so frightened with my warped reality. I even went as far as calling the police for help. CAHOOTS was able to assist me in getting into Buckley Detox, but still I had to wait almost a week before getting admitted, just to have them discharge me after a day due to the fact I was medically sicker than their faculty could accommodate.
[00:04:25] My recovery really began the day I met Ed Chartrand with Hope Rides Again. I was welcomed with open arms, introduced to others fighting the same battle. It was the first time I didn’t feel alone. I was invited to church, Bible study, recovery meetings, offered resources to help me. I was given the opportunity to volunteer with feeding the homeless, and organizing clothes for the clothing pantry.
[00:04:54] Having the support from the large family of recovering addicts helped me with all the hurdles that come from long-term substance abuse. I have my life back. Standing here today, I’m over 19 months clean and sober. I’ve completed drug and alcohol treatment, worked community service and road crew to pay off all my traffic violations, been issued a driver’s license, and work a full-time job.
[00:05:22] I have been restored. I have even restored relationships with my family. Receiving this immediate help in a time of desperation from Hope Rides Again is what I needed to start my new life free of drugs. Thank you.
[00:05:40] Jennifer Ferraez (Hope Rides Again): My name is Jennifer Ferraez. That same Saturday that Ed ascended the muddy hillside in search of the body of his homeless brother, I was faced with another death in my town of Cottage Grove.
[00:05:52] I was running errands one day when I looked up and saw several red and blue flashing lights in the direction of Coiner Park. My heart sank, not only realizing that something bad was most likely going down, but that it could be a homeless neighbor.
[00:06:09] As I approached the edge of the park, my worst fear was confirmed. I saw first responders circled around the body of a man who was having CPR performed on his lifeless body. It broke my heart. I learned later that he had been discovered by a passerby leaning on a picnic table, and his lips were already blue.
[00:06:30] He was a young man who could have had so much life ahead of him. He was once somebody’s precious baby.
[00:06:40] I am a licensed clinical social worker (I’m sorry) in the town of Cottage Grove. I’ve worked with people on the edge of society my whole life. I have homeless friends on the streets of Cottage Grove, and in the surrounding area.
[00:06:54] I have come to realize that the lack of appropriate resources can sometimes be a matter of life and death. We have no place for people to go when they begin to take steps towards recovery. We have no sober living houses in Cottage Grove, where people can be surrounded by support as they begin the journey of early recovery.
[00:07:15] Lastly, we have little low-income housing where people can live surrounded by their recovery family as they take the next steps towards integrating back into the broader community.
[00:07:27] In 2021, 9.4% of the population in the state of Oregon was determined to have an illicit drug use disorder. (This is off your own website.) This makes Oregon number one, the number one state in the country. In 2021, 89% of overdoses involved an opioid; 62% percent of overdoses involved an amphetamine.
[00:07:49] Governor Kotek has now signed three executive orders to address the state’s housing and homeless crisis. If we do not address addiction as well as homelessness, this crisis will never be solved. I would like to encourage the commissioners to support the vision of Hope Rides Again, and make it possible to bridge our most vulnerable in society out of the cycle of homelessness. What Ed is proposing not only will save lives, but it will make the best use of limited resources and save taxpayer money.
[00:08:24] It is very simple, but incredibly powerful. This intervention, it’s not only realistic, but it is sustainable, and I’m pledging my support as a clinical social worker to help in any way needed. Thank you.
[00:08:37] John Q: All five commissioners responded. Here are remarks from Commissioner Pat Farr.
[00:08:42] Commissioner Pat Farr: You brought a range of emotions to me that I’m not prepared to talk about at this point in time. You’ve said a lot of powerful things. You act in very powerful ways and you’ve demonstrated a need that we have in this community. I cannot begin to tell you how many people have come to me crying out for help and not been able to find detox or a place to get that help.
[00:09:04] Ed, you said: ‘I came to a point of desperation. I realized I was destroying my own life and those around me.’ And Shiloh and Jennifer, you passed along similar encounters. Now today we have people who want help, can’t find help. We have to put all boots on the ground. We have to find every single way that we can to give them the help that they’re not getting today.
[00:09:28] ‘My precious babies,’ You said, ‘This is somebody’s precious baby,’ that every life we touch is ‘somebody’s precious baby.’ If we keep that in our hearts, then it gives us the drive that we need to have to move forward with the things that you talk about today.
[00:09:39] It’s got to be all boots on the ground. It’s got to be government, it’s got to be public, it’s got to be private, it’s got to be everybody providing the help that people are desperately needing and desperately reaching out for and unable to get. Or if they get it, they get kicked out a day later because the medical facility that they’re in is not capable of handling the entire range of the issues that are being put before them. Powerful today. Amazing. I’m going to carry that a long time.
[00:10:05] John Q: Three persons speak on behalf of Hope Rides Again during public comment with the Lane County commissioners.