City asks Whoville campers to pack up

City asks Whoville campers to pack up
Whoville Camp Number 9 at the corner of Broadway and Hilyard

EUGENE, Ore. - People camped out on a patch of city-owned land need to pack up their belonging and leave before crews started cleaning up the site, the City of Eugene said Thursday.

The camp - known as Whoville - is one in a series of "protest camps," where people who are homeless and their supporters have pitched tents in protest of Eugene's ban on camping on city property.

"The City’s goal is for people to leave the site voluntarily and to get connected with the services they need to find safe and legal shelter," the City of Eugene said in a statement. "The City is coordinating with a number of local social service agencies to help people transition from the camp. Space is currently available at the City-approved Rest Stop located at the corner of Roosevelt and Garfield."

Whoville organizers lashed out at the plan.

"This statement is disingenuous at best and a blatant attempt to mislead the public into thinking shelter is available when it is not. As the City well knows, there is no safe and legal shelter available for those who are living in WHOVILLE - that is why they are living in WHOVILLE," the organization said in a press release. "Now the homeless will be inanely evicted from their sanctuary at WHOVILLE for a totally indiscernible reason. Now, snatched out of safe harbor and exposed to freezing and rainy weather,  it will be back to the Park Blocks, Kesey Square and the Barmuda Triangle with attendant costly interactions with police and private security guards and further complaints about the 'livability' of the downtown."

People involved in the Occupy Eugene movement called for a "Circle of Conscience" to form at the site Friday.

"It will be a painful blow to the 40 people who have found sanctuary there for 4 months and they need community support," a press release said.

The City of Eugene outlined other steps the local government has been involved in to help the homeless:

  • Expanded the car camping program to accommodate more people and added Conestoga Huts to the program;
     
  • Provided a site for Opportunity Village, a transitional micro-housing facility for 30-40 homeless individuals and couples;
     
  • Funded emergency winter strategies with $225,000 of one-time funding to bolster existing services for people who are homeless, or in jeopardy of becoming homeless; and
     
  • Approved a rest stop pilot program designating two sites on city-owned property – one of which was opened in December by Community Supported Shelters.