Temporary shelter for 'unhoused' proposed for City Hall lot

(File/SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. -- At their Monday, October 22 work session, the Eugene City Council will discuss moving forward with a plan that could allow a portion of the vacant City Hall lot to serve as a temporary day center and overnight safe-sleeping location for the unhoused, the City said Friday in a news release.

"Many cities, particularly along the West Coast, are facing growing and urgent issues related to homelessness," the City stated in the release. "A recent study by the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) revealed that roughly 130 people become homeless each month in Lane County. The 2018 count of homelessness found that over 1,600 people are experiencing homelessness in Lane County. TAC’s study indicated that 83 percent of those individuals were single adults and over 1,000 of those adults were in unsheltered locations. Adding to the challenge, the study also found that many of Lane County’s unhoused are chronically homeless and have a serious mental illness or a substance use disorder. These individuals may need more intensive and strategic services to access housing. Compared to national data, Lane County has a much higher incidence of homelessness amongst single adults."

Based on the urgent need around unsheltered homelessness, the City says, they have been working with partners over the last several months to find options for increasing shelter for the unhoused.

"The proposed temporary overnight services on the City Hall site will be modeled on the successful Dusk to Dawn program that provides unhoused individuals with a place to safely sleep and keep their belongings at night," the City said. "A social service provider or site manager is responsible for providing supervision during site operating hours from dusk (4:30 p.m.) to dawn (7:30 a.m.)."

The proposed day center will provide a place for people to be during the day and will be staffed with social service providers to help connect people to needed services, the City stated.

This will be a temporary shelter as the City and partners continue to explore long-term options. Council recently set aside $1 million to assist with a larger solution around homelessness, and that work is continuing.

"The proposal to create a temporary shelter at the City Hall lot will provide a critical option for people experiencing homelessness through colder, wetter months," the City said. "Specifics about what the site will look like will come together over the coming days and weeks as staff work through the details."

The City is partnering with Lane County on this effort. A recent court ruling allows the City and County to move forward with a land exchange agreement that will provide a site for a new County Courthouse on the former City Hall site and a site for a new City Hall on the current Butterfly Lot. That process is continuing and this potential shelter should not impact future developments on this site.

"City staff will continue fine-tuning plans over the coming days and will return to City Council on Monday, October 22, with a more detailed look at what this temporary day center and safe sleeping site could look like as well as specifics about site operations."

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