Pursuit of Safe Sleep sites a costly, fraught proposition
This article does a good job of explaining Eugene's Safe Sleep Site concept, the associated costs, and the challenges with finding contractors, working with supply chain limitations, finding site management resources and hearing concerns from people connected to adjoining properties. To our friends who are county residents and claim that this is a "Eugene problem," which I hear frequently, please note that the first camp occupant profiled in this article is a woman who was displaced by the Holiday Farm Fire. She is from unincorporated Lane County. Based on my discussions with campers, residents, businesses, workers, my responder colleagues and my past experience as a responder, most are from somewhere other than Eugene! This is a regional, state and national problem and we should be receiving help from outside of our city. Not to pick on the woman from Blue River, and she has my deepest sympathy, but when I voted as a city councilor to approve the five Safe Sleep Sites being developed, I thought I was voting to approve space for people who are indigent and living on our streets, in our parks and publics spaces. People who have nothing and nowhere to go. This woman says she is paying on a property in La Pine Oregon. What? The Safe Sites are NOT intended for those seeking a less expensive life style and wish to save money, they are intended for those who truly cannot afford to go anywhere else. While we have to get people off of our streets for the health and welfare of our entire community, including the unhoused, the cost of providing these spaces and meeting the requirements imposed by our federal courts is staggering and NOT sustainable if cities like Eugene are expected to shoulder the load alone. Finally, a personal beef with our local media. In every article I've read on our unhoused problem, the focus seems to primarily be on Washington/Jefferson Park and the encampment on W. 13th Avenue. While these areas are most definitely problem areas, there is nary a comment about the hundreds of RVs, trailers and campers filling the streets of West Eugene where some of the worst crime is taking place. There is also a dearth of reporting on the problems still plaguing our downtown and the Whiteaker neighborhood. To any reporter reading this post, please step away from your desk, go out into our community and take a look! If you cannot find your way to West Eugene, call me and I will personally pick you up and take you for a tour! I can show you the problem up close. I can also show you streets that have been cleared and cleaned and talk about the positive impact on businesses and workers in those locations. Businesses that had let their properties decline and were looking to relocate. But after clearing and cleaning, many have reinvested in their businesses and the jobs they create for our community. Some who were ready to leave have now even talked about expansion. Sadly though, many streets are still in terrible shape and some businesses have already left or are still leaving because they have lost faith in our City and our system. Please stay informed on this work, help where you can, and raise your voice so that you are heard and counted as to what you believe to be the right thing. I also ask that you become informed so that you understand the limitations placed on your local governments as you judge their performance. I for one feel like we have had these challenges thrust upon us, over years, and many of the possible solutions have been removed from the table without our input.