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EUGENE, Ore. – The Chase Commons Safe Sleep Site opened in Eugene recently, allowing people experiencing homelessness to have an individual bed to sleep in as well as showers and restrooms to use. However, people camping near the shelter site are drawing complaints from the public.
The reason that someone camping near the freeway cannot just come into a shelter site to rest for a night is because they actually are not designed to serve as drop-in centers, but work on much smaller scales.
Kelly McIver, a spokesperson for the City of Eugene, explained why these safe sleep shelters cannot act as a quick and easy solution.
“All of the City’s rest stops and safe sleep sites that have opened in the last several years have been at capacity basically since opening, and they have extremely long waiting lists,” McIver said.
The Chase Commons shelter in particular is dedicated to individuals who are considered medically vulnerable.
“So the 20 spaces there to serve the 20 individuals are specifically for folks who have a high level of medical need,” McIver said. “There are people who are recovering from procedures or suffering from conditions.”
An official working at the site said operations started only at the end of March, and they expect for the center to be at full capacity by mid-April.
The City of Eugene is currently working to update its camping code. As it stands now, the city’s code outlaws camping in public spaces. However, enforcement of the code is complaint based.
But McIver explained, not all public property can be enforced the same way.
“Not every public space is operated by the same government agency. You have sometimes property that’s operated by the county,” McIver said. “So the county will be the responsive agency. Sometimes it is state property, either the Oregon Department of Transportation or another state agency.”
McIver confirmed the property near the Highway 105 and 126 Garden Way overpass is managed by ODOT. If the public were to complain to the city about campsites there, the complaint would be directed to ODOT where it would be reviewed and it would be determined if action was necessary.
Campsites persist despite nearby newly-opened safe sleep shelter | News
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