Recently the community was asked to consider a safe sleep parking facility in the previous Park and Ride station at River Road and River Avenue. The city was considering that spot or one a block or so away at a church that had closed. There was a long thread in Next Door about this possibility. Many important and legitimate concerns were voiced including prevalence of North Eugene High School students who congregate there, the busy traffic and freeway entrance, and the fact that it is very close to a service center for the unhoused across the street.
But the thread also surfaced many fears that the presence of homeless folks seem to raise. Some of these fears are based on assumptions about that population, primarily that they are criminals and sex offenders. For most of us with modest security, it is hard to understand their circumstances. This is an opportunity to learn more.
So RRCO endeavored to document some facts. It turns out that facts are hard to come by because the population is transient. There are two sources of data: the Point In Time count done every January, and the By Name count compiled by agencies that serve the unhoused population. Obviously these two methods are going to come up with different numbers, and many of the questions we have aren’t answered in the data.
To me the biggest take-away is that we have a very high rate of mental illness in Oregon that is not adequately resourced.
Here is our fact sheet. This will likely be revised as we learn more.