After years of planning and partnerships, Navigation Center officially opens
A new, low-barrier housing shelter opened in Eugene today, called the Navigation Center.
The grand opening started with speeches and a ribbon cutting, then a tour of the 75-bed facility. The site was conceived as a response to recommendations made in what’s called the TAC report, which outlined ways to address homelessness across Lane County in 2018.
In that time, homelessness has only worsened, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials – including Kelly McIver of the City of Eugene’s Unhoused Response – told KLCC that say every bit helps.
“Every resource that we can direct people to and move them towards stability is a positive thing,” said McIver. “It’s hugely needed, we know that there’s a long way to go. But we still have to stop and recognize those victories. And this is that.”
Coordinators emphasized that the Navigation Center is not a walk-in service, but rather a facility to which the county refers residents.
According to the City of Eugene's website, "the program serves people who experience unsheltered homelessness and who are prioritized for housing resources through Lane County Coordinated Entry. The purpose of The Navigation Center is to support people by removing barriers to housing, including document retrieval, income assistance, repairing credit, overcoming poor rental history, and more so that they can exit homelessness into permanent housing."
There are roughly over 4,000 unhoused people in the area.
Meanwhile, Eugene’s Mayor defended the city’s preparations for the World Athletics Championship, and said homelessness remains a priority.
During the ten-day event in July, some homeless advocates denounced the expense and focus the City of Eugene placed on the championships. Some interrupted events at the Riverfront or put stickers around town calling attention to the unhoused community, including removed camps.
At the grand opening today for the Navigation Center, Mayor Lucy Vinis said the city does many things at once.
“The World Athletic Championships were coming here, we had an obligation to make it safe and welcoming for all of the people in our community and our guests in the community,” she said. “We have an ongoing obligation and commitment to addressing the crisis of homelessness in our midst, and that work continues and today we celebrate that work.”
This year marked the first time an American city hosted the event. A projected economic boom of $52 million in direct spending by visitors was estimated several years back by Travel Lane County and ECONorthwest.
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