EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Advocates for those who have nowhere to live with an idea to designate a campsite near an elementary school have sparked conversation in Eugene.
Homeless advocates are holding a first public meeting Tuesday night, July 10, 2012, to address the idea of putting a semi-permanent camp on a grass field across the street from Cesar Chavez Elementary School.
The property in discussion is owned by the City of Eugene and is situated between the Eugene Faith Center and the old National Guard Armory, which is being transformed into the Looking Glass program’s new Riverfront School.
A group of homeless advocates, many of whom worked with the City of Eugene’s Opportunity Eugene task force on homelessness, have recently discussed the property as a potential site for a homeless camp.
The property is on West 14th Avenue off Chambers Street. It has hosted three homeless families through the non-profit Saint Vincent de Paul’s car camping program since May 2012.
The car camping program has been around for several years, housing homeless families with vehicles in various approved parking lots throughout the city. To be a part of the program, the non-profit conducts background checks on those involved. The organizaton also provides a mobile bathroom service, trash pick-up and free access to showers, laundry services and more at the Lindholm Service Center.
The latest discussion of putting a homeless camp at the same field is unaffiliated with St. Vincent de Paul; the idea originated from a completely different group of advocates.
One local resident who was invited to the meeting told NewsSource 16 about it.
KC, a man participating in the car camping program, told NewsSource 16 that as a homeless individual, having a safe place to stay has been key to getting back on his feet.
“You know, it's not an easy situation, but it's good to know that there are people out there that are willing to help and I think for the most part, everybody's compassionate about the people who are in our situation,” said KC. “I didn't think I'd ever be in this situation either. I used to have a secure job. Hopefully, I am not going to be here forever.”
KC told NewsSource 16 he was unaware of the meeting until media contacted him Tuesday. He says he encourages the dialogue though.
“If I was in their place and I seen (sic) people camping in a field, I'd wonder, too. I'd want to know what's going on too and I'm glad that you know, the people are getting out and getting the real story about the facts and what's going on,” said KC.
The informational discussion about the homeless camp begins Tuesday night at 6:30 PM in Cesar Chavez Elementary, at 1510 West 14th Avenue. The meeting is open to the public.
No decisions are set to be made at the meeting.
NewsSource 16 spoke with representatives of the City of Eugene’s Community Development Department, St. Vincent de Paul administration, and Eugene 4J Communications Office. So far, all three groups say they have not weighed in on the idea nor even considered it in administrative discussion yet.