Council OKs 2 homeless 'rest stop' camps in Eugene

Council OKs 2 homeless 'rest stop' camps in Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. - Up to 15 people will be allowed to sleep legally on public property at each of two pilot "rest stop" homeless camps under a proposal approved by the Eugene City Council.

Homeless protesters who have been camped out around town as part of the SLEEPS and Whoville protests aren't supportive of the decision. They said there are too few locations, located in poor neighborhoods far from services.

"There's one that's just a little farther down River Road except that that's outside of the area that they perceive to be the poor neighborhood and the dumping ground," said Tin Man, a Whoville camp leader. "It's not going to work. We're not going away."

They also questioned the suitability of the Northwest Expressway location, which is muddy and drains poorly.

The Council approved the plan 6-2 on Monday. The city hopes to find a volunteer contractor to operate the camps at no additional cost to the city.

Councilors agreed on two locations: A 1-acre site near Northwest Expressway and Chambers; and 2/10ths of an acre on Roosevelt west of Garfield.

Although the council approved the two sites, there are many concerns about flooding and the camps being close together.

"Especially like the storm we had a few weeks ago that could be a really bad situation," said Councilor George Brown.

Mayor Kitty Piercy stressed that the camps are not a solution to the homeless problem nor are they intended to be permanent.

There is no timeline for the first camp to open. Once it is up and running and shows success, the city would open the second camp.

The program will expire in March without extension by the city.