The Eugene City Council voted 7-0 April 24 to draft an ordinance to lift the city’s ban on camping in undeveloped city properties for 120 days. Local homeless people and their advocates say that the experiment could go well if measures such as sanitation and safety are taken into consideration.
“Marrie-Lae,” a homeless Eugenean using an alias to prevent others from assuming her identity, says that while she likes the idea, more temporary solutions mean there’s still going to be a problem. She says she doesn’t know if a temporary solution will enable people to take care of themselves. It’s important for City Council to keep in mind that if you can’t sleep, you’re not healthy, and if you’re not healthy, it’s hard to sleep, she says.
In addition, Marrie-Lae says that it would make her feel safer, in case of an altercation, if legal sleeping locations weren’t too far away from the downtown area, and a good solution would also mean being close enough to access food from places like FOOD for Lane County’s Dining Room.
Advocate Alley Valkyrie says that the experiment can only be successful if camping locations have bathrooms and bathrooms downtown are no longer locked on the weekends. “The city will say that they’re open 24 hours, but we do random spot checks, and we go over there and it’s locked,” she says. “They use the justification that someone’s going to abuse the bathrooms to close the bathrooms. I don’t care how many people abuse the bathroom, having to use the bathroom is a human right, and they’re still going to have to go! If you lock it, they’re going to go outside.”
Meanwhile, a homeless woman was jailed Sunday morning, April 28, for sleeping in the doorway of the Salvation Army.