White Bird Clinic has partnered with the City of Eugene, Carry it Forward, and Lane County to develop a comprehensive sheltering system that will allow unhoused individuals to choose the shelter option that best meets their needs. Providing unhoused individuals a place to shelter-in-place along with the rest of the community improves public health and reduces morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. Supporting community-wide sheltering in place is the surest way to protect the whole community’s health.
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White Bird will operate the system’s resource distribution hub, providing tents, sleeping bags, clothing, and personal hygiene items. Diverse sheltering options are offered as available: support services for an existing encampment, motel rooms for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, indoor shelters, and designated temporary shelter sites. Camp sites and shelters host food distribution, hygiene facilities, and social services upon request.
Designated temporary shelter sites are locations where small groups of people (up to 10 people or 6 tents) can camp in tents or vehicles with appropriate social distancing, and will be supported with hygiene stations (portable restrooms and handwashing stations), food and supplies, and welfare checks. The locations will also have privacy fencing in place to help support the security of the site. The sites are managed by White Bird and Carry It Forward, local homeless service providers.
Why are these sites being established?
Based on CDC guidelines, the City of Eugene is working with our partners at Lane County and Springfield to reduce the need for people to travel around the community to access basic needs and shelter. Reducing this movement helps protect everyone. Since these vulnerable community members may not have a home to “stay home” in, we are working to help them shelter in place or create places where they can be safely. In addition to our mobile homeless outreach teams and hygiene stations, designated temporary shelter sites are another strategy to help flatten the curve and reduce community transmission of COVID-19.
Why are they located in our community center parking lots?
As a result of the current Stay Home Save Lives order, City community centers are closed to the public at this time. The closure of the centers provides the opportunity to utilize currently unused parking lot space to create small, temporary sites for people who need a place to take shelter. The configuration and location of the sites support CDC recommendations for social distancing for people who are unhoused and allows them to be secure and managed by local social service providers. In addition, having people on-site at the closed community centers may also help reduce negative activity at the centers as there will be people nearby to discourage that activity.
In addition, as part of its COVID-19 response, Lane County has also established two temporary respite sites where unhoused individuals can receive services, including a safe place to sleep, meals, showers and medical screenings. The first site, in Eugene, is the Lane County Fairgrounds. People showing no symptoms or signs of illness will be placed in the convention center. Those who are showing signs of illness will be directed to the Wheeler Pavilion. The second site, in Springfield, is the Memorial Building, owned by Willamalane Park and Recreation District.
Lane County has contracted with St. Vincent de Paul to operate the shelter aspect of these sites and is working with Occupy Medical as the medical screening resource. Participation in the service is voluntary. Only the individuals staying at one of the locations overnight will have access to the facilities.
Who will be at the designated temporary shelter sites?
The sites will be designated for people experiencing homelessness who are unable to find shelter. In order to get an assigned space at the shelter sites, individuals need to check-in at the White Bird distribution site first and receive a basic medical screening. Asymptomatic high-risk individuals, such as people over 65 or with certain underlying health conditions (respiratory, compromised immunities, chronic disease) may be prioritized for these sites.
How long will they be located here?
We don’t have a specific timeline at this point, but we anticipate it will be for the duration of the Stay Home, Save Lives order.
How will the sites be managed?
The sites will be managed by local social service providers, White Bird and Carry It Forward. Site staff will provide ongoing health check-ins with shelter site participants and general upkeep of the site to help ensure the health and safety of individuals at the site and minimize impacts to the surrounding area and neighborhood.
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Who do I contact if I have a concern?
For specific site concerns you can contact Alex Farmer with White Bird Clinic at 541-342-8255. For questions for the City, please contact the City Manager’s Office at 541-682-5010.
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