Eugene council gets earful from homeless advocates

Sep 11, 2013

The Eugene City Council heard from numerous members of the homeless community and their advocates at a packed meeting Monday night.  

Last week, the Lane County Board of Commissioners closed Free Speech Plaza in Eugene. They said they needed to clean the plaza after people had pitched their tents there for three weeks protesting the city's camping ban. Angela Bartow, a member of the protest group SLEEPS, spoke at Monday's council meeting. She identified herself as un-housed, a mother and a student.

Bartow: "We are human beings just like every one of you on this board. We bleed red, just like you do. Why is it we are treated as trash? Why do we not get a safe place to sleep?"

Bartow told the council if someone dies in the street this winter, the blood would be on their hands. She then stood on the table, shouting. Mayor Kitty Piercy and councilors left the room for a few minutes after that. SLEEPS member Jean Stacy spoke next.

Stacy: "People that you've been working with a long time in peace and hope have given up hope and when you give up hope you act very differently."

About 50 people spoke at Monday's meeting. Next week, the council will hold a hearing on a pilot program to allow small numbers of homeless people to camp overnight on public or private property.

A sign at a SLEEPS protest at the Eugene Federal Building.
Credit Rachael McDonald

Many at Monday's hearing urged the city to purchase Civic Stadium from the Eugene 4j School District. That topic is on next week's agenda.