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Homeless Downtown

Adding police is not the solution

Homelessness and impoverishment are not law enforcement problems and cannot be mitigated by police actions. The Eugene City Council needs to stop dithering and being paralyzed by NIMBY trolls who could not care less that housing is a human right. 

So many people who are homeless are ill and surely more will die in the streets. It is urgent that the council come up with solutions that get people who are unhoused off the streets and into safe and legal places to be. Most Eugene housed residents have no idea how people who are homeless are traumatized by the conditions they deal with each and every day.

Where can I eat? Where can I relieve myself? Where can I shower and bathe? Where can I sleep? Where can I just sit or lie down and rest? Where can I go to feel safe from attack or theft? Where can I keep my belongings safe and dry? Where can I get my wet clothing and sleeping gear dried? Where can I get adequate health care and appropriate medications for my physical and mental health problems? Where can I stay when I feel really ill or I have been released from the hospital after surgery? Where can I self-shelter without being cited or arrested? If I am able to look for work, who will hire me if I am unbathed, my clothes or I smell, and I lack a permanent mailing address? How am I ever to get employed or ever be accepted by a landlord with my police record of citations and arrests for illegal camping? How can I keep from being noticed and approached by police? 

People who are homeless and unsheltered wake up each day asking themselves these questions, questions that keep coming back to them every waking hour.

Police are not seen as friends — they are seen as people who harass and push those who are tired, sleep deprived and often not well into moving along. We should not be at all surprised at how people gathered in the Park Blocks Oct. 21 — many if not most of whom are homeless — negatively reacted when three police officers sought to physically detain and arrest a man who kept asking why and what he had done, Tasing and hitting him while holding him against a police car. 

In response to these officers’ call for backup, 25 police cars arrived to support their completion of the arrest, this huge show of force further angering and inciting those bystanders drawn to watching the arrest. It is all on a YouTube video.

Current city policies toward homelessness that rely heavily upon law enforcement are not working. Indeed, many police officers greatly dislike the position into which they are being put, a waste of their intensive training as professionals who prevent and respond to serious crimes. 

Moving people who are homeless from point A to point B, citing and arresting some along the way, is an endless process that many of the police can barely tolerate. The City Council needs to forge more effective, less costly and more humane solutions for dealing with people who are impoverished and often homeless.