The City of Eugene recently adjusted policies on urban camping given COVID-19. But, advocates say the rules only dictate where the unhoused can’t stay, not where they can.
The adjustments, released Jan. 23, were meant to let camps remain in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus. It includes spots where camping is prohibited and criteria such as how far a camp can be from certain areas, cleanliness, and a tip line for public complaints.
Nick Farrow is with The Way Home, one of several advocacy groups who say these rules are unrealistic and will lead to more movement.
“It’s clear that the authorities have the ability to violate any particular person sheltering outside for multiple reasons, for multiple items on the list so the criteria are not really designed to be something that people can meet and then have a place to be,” Farrow said.
A better solution, he said, would be for the city to identify a specific area where the homeless can live and offer resources and social services. Farrow also wants the city to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority's reccomendation to allow camping.
As of now, the city has pointed to microsites as an alternative, however space is limited and the sites are often at capacity.
City spokesperson Brian Richardson said the criteria is evolving and they’re trying to balance the needs of the unhoused, neighborhoods and business owners.
This post may be updated.
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