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Homelessness and well-being acknowledged as persistent issues for Lane County in this year's State of the County address

Lane County Government
Pat Farr, board chair for the Lane County Board of Commissioners, delivers the 2023 State of the County address.

Homelessness and mental health were two themes raised in the annual State of the County address, presented Monday (1/9) for Lane County.

Lane County Board chair Pat Farr outlined the year’s accomplishments and challenges. He said 67% of residents said homelessness was their prime concern, and wanted the unhoused community further protected from criminalization.

Farr said to that end, Lane County Behavioral Health is working to address the “critical intersection” of criminal justice and behavioral health.

“LCBH has partnered with housing providers to develop and expand residential capacity in the community. So far, though awards and contracts are still in the works, we anticipate an additional 70-80 beds between now and spring.”

The most recent point-in-time count shows nearly 2,900 unhoused people.

Farr mentioned three housing developments that opened last year, including the Navigation Center, a low-barrier facility aimed at helping homeless individuals find permanent housing.

Lane County commissioners (from L to R): Heather Buch, Pat Farr, Laurie Trieger, Ryan Ceniga, and David Loveall.

Another facility, the Behavioral Health Crisis Stabilization Center, is set to open in late 2024.

Farr also shared the past year’s successes, including its public health response. He said the county’s network of clinics helped protect residents from a wide range of threats, including COVID, and mpox.

“Our community health clinics – we have six, soon to be seven, in the past fiscal year served 25,740 different patients - with a total of more than 169,000 encounters with these patients in our community health centers.”

The seventh clinic will open in Cottage Grove.

In addition to the State of the County address, commissioners Heather Buch, Ryan Ceniga, and David Loveall all took their oaths of office. Mary Vuksich-Shafer was also sworn in as the Lane County Assessor, and Richard Brissenden was sworn in as Justice of the Peace for Lane County Justice Court.

©2023, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.