Should Roseburg designate a 'homeless camp'?

Should Roseburg designate a 'homeless camp'?
Should Roseburg put a homeless camp here at Willis Park?

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ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Homeless advocates are working on a plan to find a place in Roseburg where they say the homeless can live and be safe.

In Roseburg, Ian Smith, an advocate for the homeless, is on a mission to find a home for those without one. "Right now, if you are homeless and in Roseburg, there is no legal place for you to sleep," he said. "There is no legal place for you to use the restroom. When you need to do those things, like we all do, you are forced to, basically violate the ordinance and that sets you up for legal penalties."

If a plan is approved by the city, the homeless will be able to camp out in a designated area.

One place being suggested is the Willis House and Willis Park on Rose Street.

Using Portland's Dignity Village as an example, Smith says this kind of camp has already been successful. "What's unique about these places is that the people who live there govern themselves, make decisions on who is going to enter the space and who is not, and what the rules are going to be," Smith said. "It's really a self-policing, self-sustaining operation."

Critics of the plan say they're worried the camp will attract more homeless people to downtown Roseburg.

A group of advocates for the camp spoke to the Roseburg City Council at their meeting Monday night, but no decision was made.

Officials say there is still a lot of work to be done before something like the camp could be approved, one of the biggest being figuring out where exactly this homeless camp would be located.