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In freezing temperatures, Big City Gamin’ opens to Eugene's unhoused

Under blankets, a patron watches Back to the Future at Big City Gamin'.
Nathan Wilk
Under blankets, a patron watches Back to the Future at Big City Gamin'.

With temperatures in Eugene below freezing, a downtown bar has opened its doors to the local unhoused population.

On Monday afternoon, those gathered at Big City Gamin’ were offered chili, space in front of the heaters and a showing of Back to the Future.

"People get cold and people die," said bar owner Brittney Whitmer. "It's important to us to do this because everybody matters."

Whitmer said around 50 people sheltered in the space over Sunday night. She said despite outside concerns about damage to the property, the hundreds of patrons have been respectful so far.

“It’s self-regulating," said Whitmer. "They've taken care of everything. They're taking out the trash for us. They're really helping, and they care.”

Emerson Sims has been there since Monday morning. He said if this space wasn’t here, he'd be lighting a fire somewhere to stay warm.

Whitmer said the bar has clothes, money and blankets, but they're getting used up quickly. She’s now asking the community for more.

"Please come drop off donations, or come say hi," she said. "We appreciate everybody that's helped."

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Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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