EUGENE, Ore. – Homeless advocates and community groups handed the City of Eugene a counter proposal, opposing the city manager’s proposal for the third “rest stop” site at the southwest corner of Northwest Expressway and Chambers Street, intended to take in the people living at Whoville who have been asked to move by April 1.
Whoville residents and the Whoville Coalition held a press conference at the approved site.
Michael Carrigan of Community Alliance of Lane County says the residents in Whoville are of the most fragile individuals of our homeless population.
“Many are veterans,” he said. “Several are struggling with medical problem and mental health and substance abuse issues.”
Carrigan said the third site, which sits next to the second approved site, is too inaccessible and unsafe.
The City said they will enforce the closing of Whoville on April 1.
If Whoville cannot stay at the current site at Hilyard and Franklin Blvd., Carrigan and other advocates ask the City to consider some criteria for a new site:
- Accommodates 30 people
- Has a privacy screen around the community, so it will be more aesthetically pleasing
- Is within one mile (walking distance) to main services: White Bird Clinic, Downtown Library, Occupy Medical and The Dining Room
- Is wheelchair and walker accessible
- Is accessible to trucks (to empty port-a-potties and garbage)
- Has handwashing stations
- Is not prone to flooding
- Has parking nearby for volunteers and donors
- Is not too close to cars and pollution
City manager Jon Ruiz based his decisions on the Council’s criteria:
- City-owned (excluding EWEB-owned sites)
- Non-sensitive open space
- Street access
- Within city limits
- Greater than one-tenth of an acre in size
- Relatively flat
- Usable shape (not long and narrow)
- Not heavily wooded
- Excludes undeveloped parks, and parcels adjacent to neighborhoods or schools
A City spokesperson says the city manager was not available to comment on the Whoville Coalition’s counter proposal.