Dual Eugene projects to help homeless

Dual Eugene projects to help homeless

EUGENE, Ore. - As Eugene officials debate an action plan for the homeless, two agencies are not waiting for the final answer.
KVAL's Tom Adams reports on a pair of projects to shelter more homeless people.

Making street survival possible.  That's the mission at the Eugene Service Station on Highway 99, a Saint Vincent de Paul program since 1999. 
However, during wintertime, this place is bursting at the seams.  They have some plans, though, to make it better.
"For all of us, what we want is a place to be safe, clean and dry," says Saint Vincent's Eugene manager, Terry McDonald.
Expansion plans are in the works for the SVDP center, where the homeless can meet their basic needs (food, day shelter, laundry, showers and more).  
Average daily usage of the day center is up about 50 percent, compared to last year.  McDonald says facilities are jammed for laundry, in-take, the kitchen--
"That's just not adequate," explains McDonald as we tour the well used kitchen corner.

Plans call for a commercial kitchen to actually fix food, expand the seating area, provide more day lockers--a total addition of 860 square feet.
SVDP expects a City of Eugene grant will pay for half of the expansion; they'll pay the rest.
McDonald tells KVAL News, "What we're trying to do is get an opportunity where we get enough of a safety net underneath people, so they can actually try to move on with their lives."

Meanwhile, work is underway at the Eugene Mission for a new women and children's center, which will eventually add 110 new beds.   Directors say they face another big issue.  City zoning limits their nightly capacity at 400.
Director Jack Tripp explains the problem, "We grew 30-percent year to date; we're over that number.  We're at about 431 guests here nightly."
Tripp says they need the city council to pass a Conditional Use Permit so they can house up to 643 homeless men and women.  The fastest growing homeless segment at the Mission, is women with children.
It's a problem caused, Tripp says, by the limping economy and too many moms with kids, losing employment.  "So when they lose their jobs, there's no place else to go--so that's a big one.  For us we also see an increase in
domestic violence," explains the Mission director.

Tripp says time is of the essence.  He expects to have the new women's center open and ready to move in by early fall.
SVDP's McDonald says construction on the expanded day service center should start in the summer.  They aim to have it done in November, but it still hinges on Eugene City Council approval of a grant.