County evaluating Highway 99 site for future public shelter

County evaluating Highway 99 site for future public shelter
Posted on 12/04/2018

Lane County is actively evaluating the potential use of approximately 1.5 acres of land and two existing buildings on Highway 99, north of Roosevelt Avenue, as a future permanent, low-barrier public shelter. County officials are working with several partners, including the City of Eugene, to determine existing building conditions, site opportunities and constraints, and impacts to the surrounding area.

 

“Our long-term vision is to create a pathway that connects people to a variety of options, from shelter to permanent, supportive and affordable housing,” said Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky. “A coordinated campus of services that includes food and shelter, as well as connections to mental and physical health, and housing and workforce services is key to creating an accountable system that ends the cycle of homelessness.”

 

The results of the evaluation and preliminary recommendations will be shared at the January 22 joint Board of County Commissioners (Board) and Eugene City Council (Council) meeting to discuss the final Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) report regarding a public shelter. The TAC report was presented to the Board and Council in October and recommended the development of a low-barrier public shelter as one critical strategy to address homelessness. The TAC report also identified the need for significant investment in permanent supportive housing and noted that permanent housing solutions represent the most successful strategy for ending homelessness.

 

Lane County and several community partners, including Homes for Good and the State of Oregon, are working to develop a 50-unit permanent supportive housing project on County-owned property on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard adjacent to the Lane County Behavioral Health facility.

 

As part of a long-term strategy to identify and develop a location for a permanent low-barrier public shelter, as well as to ensure the health and safety of homeless individuals at the current temporary homeless camp on Highway 99, the site will begin to transition to a more structured and sustainable Dusk to Dawn temporary shelter model managed by St. Vincent De Paul in early January 2019.

 

“Our goal continues to be to identify safe and healthy options,” said Lane County Health and Human Services Director Karen Gaffney. “We have been working diligently with our partners at the City of Eugene and St. Vincent de Paul, as well as others, to connect individuals at Camp 99 with other resources and programs that already exist within our community, including hosting social service and medical provider fairs and individual needs assessments.”

 

Camp 99 was opened in late October as a temporary, 30-60 day measure to help create a safer and healthier camping location for nearly 100 people who had been camping on the downtown Butterfly Lot. The current camp does not have the infrastructure or management support needed to sustain it as a safe and healthy place for the people it is serving over a longer period of time.

 

To date, 25 people have successfully transitioned out of Camp 99 to the existing Dusk to Dawn location operated by St. Vincent de Paul north of Camp 99.

 

Dusk to Dawn, operated by St. Vincent de Paul, has a proven track record of effectiveness, provides a management structure that ensures the safety and security of participants, is more accessible for people with disabilities, and integrates seamlessly with services offered at the Lindholm Service Center.  Transitioning the current Camp 99 into a Dusk to Dawn site will also provide heating and consistent, adequate protection through the coldest months of the year for up to 80 people.

 

In order for the site to come under the Dusk to Dawn umbrella established by City Code, Lane County will request that Eugene city councilors approve the Camp 99 location as a Dusk to Dawn site at the December 12 City Council meeting. Lane County is beginning the process to notify individuals currently located at Camp 99 of the coming change and how they can participate.

 

In October, Lane County and the City of Eugene partnered to fund expanded services at the Lindholm Center in order to accommodate the influx of individuals seeking services from the nearby Camp 99 location. The Lindholm Center, operated by St. Vincent de Paul, offers free meals, showers, laundry and connections to other services.

 

In addition to the creation of a new Dusk to Dawn site, Lane County and the City of Eugene are evaluating additional potential Rest Stop locations. Within the City of Eugene, private property owners can also host overnight sleeping (camping) in certain situations with the property owners’ permission. More information is available at https://www.eugene-or.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8985/Permitted-Overnight-Sleeping-Camping.