EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Nearly one year after the end of Occupy Eugene's encampment, the Eugene City Council has now approved a site for a small experimental homeless housing project.
Eugene City Council voted 6 to 1 Monday night, December 11, to approve approving a small city-sanctioned homeless camp in Eugene's Trainsong neighborhood on North Garfield Street. Councilor Mike Clark voted against the motion, saying he supported many elements of it but wasn't ready to support the motion outright so quickly. Councilor George Polling was absent from the meeting.
The camp will not open this winter, but it could open as early as April 2013.
The approved site for the camp is located at 111 North Garfield Street, off Roosevelt Boulevard, near the Chambers Street Connector. Currently, the site is a public works yard, but it used to be a mobile home park.
The project is being considered a pilot project that will house up to thirty people. The site will be secure with limited entry only for authorized individuals.
It will be run by a non-profit according to the motion councilors passed on Monday night, likely Opportunity Village Eugene. The group started up after Occupy Eugene's camp closed at Washington Jefferson Park in late December 2011. Whoever runs it will have to take full liability for the site.
City Councilor Alan Zelenka had a big role in bringing the project together in the last few weeks, working with city staff to pass the pilot project proposal on Monday.
"This is the first one, let's make sure it works. People need to get behind the non-profit that's going to do this. They're going to need to do some fundraising and need help putting it together, so community support is going to be important. If it works, then maybe we can grow it,” says Alan Zelenka, a Eugene City Councilor.
Zelenka emphasized that the camp "will not look like Occupy Eugene's Washington Jefferson Park camp", saying that the camp would not be open for anyone to walk through and that it would provide more structure through a non-profit's leadership.
Occupy Eugene was forced to close its camp on December 20, 2011, a day after a man was assaulted in the camp after he allegedly started a fight. The man, 54-year-old Rick Youngblood, died on December 23, 2011 from injuries he sustained in the fight. Read NewsSource 16's story on the death at http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Occupy-Eugene-assault-victim-dies-from-injuries/BeNGIlOC7UKBjXVxuxCvvg.cspx.
The camp will only be allowed on the North Garfield Street site until October 2014. By March 2014, the City Manager's office will report back to the Eugene City Council with a progress report on the project.
The homeless camp will not open this winter because the city needs a conditional use permit to get it running. The approval process for one such a permit typically takes four to six months. However, the city is still spending up to $225,000 this winter to fund more homeless service in Eugene.
To read more about the winter homelessness strategies expenditure, click the following link: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Eugene-City-Council-okays-225-000-to-help-local/lCaQPivH4UyZZlkTZkBJEA.cspx.
The city is also investigating what types of structures will be allowed on the camp site. One of the ideas is to use a Eugene building company's proposed Conestoga huts. For more information on the huts, go to: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Eugene-builders-hope-locally-created-huts-help/My-OaM38cke9iy_ViVCrZw.cspx.