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Housing Advocates Protest The Closure Of Temporary Shelters In Lane County

Melorie Begay/KLCC News

After both the City of Eugene and Lane County decided to close temporary emergency COVID-19 respite centers and camps, more than 100 protesters convened at a parking lot on Friday. 

Protesters condemned local officials for not having an exit plan for unhoused people who were staying in those facilities and opposed police sweeps.


Eugene City Council Emily Semple gave a short speech on encouraging protesters to keep advocating for the unhoused.


“I stand with every single one of you, I got into running for city council as an advocate for the homeless...shelter housing is a human right, we’re humans, let’s get on with it,” Semple said.


Semple was then met by “defund the police” chants and Zondie Zinke took the mic from Semple.


“I’m sorry Emily, you can’t [explitive] come here when you voted for the Payroll Tax, and you know what Eliza Kashinsky has been nowhere,” Zinke yelled. Zinke criticized the tax for providing more funding for police instead of addressing homelessness.


Semple and Kashinsky are going head to head this November in a city council runoff election to represent Ward 1. Ward 1 includes downtown Eugene.


Protesters later joined the Black Lives Matter protest at the Federal Courthouse where Chelsea Swift with CAHOOTS gave a speech on housing justice.


 “Housing justice has always [meant] decriminalizing poverty, it has always meant being anti-racist, and there is no social justice without racial justice, and if there is no justice, there is no peace,” said Swift.


Neither Lane County or the City of Eugene have announced additional COVID-19 services as the county enters into Phase 2 of reopening. Meanwhile, both the Eugene Mission and the Dusk-to-Dawn site remain at capacity with limited space due to social distancing protocols.


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.