Rest stops for homeless: 'It's not legal for us to kick them out of the city'

Rest stops for homeless: 'It's not legal for us to kick them out of the city' »Play Video
The Eugene Safe Spot

EUGENE, Ore. - The Eugene Safe Spot opened 4 months ago, the City of Eugene's first official "rest stop" for homeless campers.

The rest stops were created to give people who are homeless a safe, legal place to sleep.

Protesters have camped out at locations around the city demanding changes to the City's ban on camping in public places.

Some citizens have been critical of the rest stops. City Councilor Claire Syrett defends them.

"We need to address the fact that they're present in our community. It's not legal for us to kick them out of the city," Syrett said of the city's homeless. "If we don't provide some legal frameworks for them to be operating within, we're going to continue to have this problem of the illegal camping."

Syrett said the program benefits the City, too.

"It was less expensive to provide that safe legal shelter for those folks, than to just let them fend for themselves," she said.

The City of Eugene spends $300,000 per year cleaning up illegal campsites.

There hasn't been a cost evaluation on the rest stop camps yet. The two existing camps are run by Community Supported Shelters, at no cost to the City beyond the land.

Eric de Buhr manages the Eugene Safe Spot. He said the 15-person camp does not allow alcohol or drugs.

"We're not going to enable the kind of behavior that's going to send them down," he said.

The camp gives people who are homeless some structure in their lives. Two of the people using the Safe Spot are now in the process of getting their GEDs.
 
"They're not always in survival mode," de Buhr said. "They can think about OK what's the next step that I can do now."