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Whoville Folks Say Proposed Site Is Not Going To Work

Rachael McDonald

Homeless advocates say a grassy area between a busy highway and the main line railroad in north Eugene is not a good place for the residents of Whoville. The City Council last week voted to approve a 3rd pilot "rest stop" for the people who've been at a camp near downtown for months.

It's a narrow piece along Northwest Expressway, near its intersection with River Road. No sidewalks. As vehicles whiz by, Ken Lainy sits in his wheelchair on a gravel driveway.

Lainy: "This wheelchair doesn’t go in mud. It's not 4-wheel drive and it's not designed to go in anything except for smooth surfaces."

Lainy says he wouldn't be able to get around at this site. He's been living at Whoville off and on for months. When he gets his Social Security check, he stays at a hotel, which allows him to lay down to cope with severe back pain. He can lay down at Whoville too, where friends are there to help. But the city wants Whoville folks to leave the lot at East Broadway and Hilyard.

Lainy: "But I'm thankful, Whoville's there, you know."

Here comes the train.

Lainy: "This is probably every night. So here we are for right to sleep guys, let's sleep."

The group that's managing a nearby rest stop and the adjacent site here slated for veterans, Community Supported Shelters, says they can not manage this site because of size and lack of accessibility.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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