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Lane County Declares Homelessness An Emergency

Lane County

In a move to symbolically reaffirm Lane County’s work toward addressing the issue, the Board of Commissioners passed a resolution, 4-1, Tuesday. The resolution declares a homelessness emergency in Lane County.

Commissioners Heather Buch, Joe Berney, Pat Farr, and Pete Sorenson approved the nonbinding resolution. It acknowledges both public concern and Lane County’s current work on housing and homelessness.

“Homelessness and housing is the greatest issue of our time,” Buch said. She added that the number of people experiencing homelessness is growing.

“Now all over our community, in every income level, throughout the county, in rural locations, in between rural locations and metro, on the roads, camping in our forests. We have a huge emergency on the table,” she said.

The only dissenting vote came from Commissioner Jay Bozievich who cited concerns over the cost of staff and resources used to declare a quote “meaningless” emergency.

“We don’t need to be spending our time writing resolutions that have no force of law, don’t change any resources, don’t create any actions, they just signal that we are virtuous and we believe in this cause, or don’t believe in that cause,” he said.

Bozievich said the county needs to focus on other work like providing mental health support and carrying out the TAC report.

The resolution does not include any policy changes or allocate any funds.

Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.