A new sleeping site for unhoused community members, authorized under the City’s Permitted Overnight Sleeping code as part of the car-camping program, will soon be established in the southeast neighborhood. Several residents of the non-profit Nightingale Health Sanctuary (NHS) program, which works to provide safe and legal places for unhoused people to sleep and connect with housing and social services, are moving to a City-owned parking lot at 34th & Hilyard near Good Samaritan Society. The site will consist of Conestoga huts that are constructed by the non-profit organization Community Supported Shelters. Each hut features insulation, a bed, a small closet space and door locks.
Nightingale Health Sanctuary (NHS) has successfully operated a rest stop as part of the City-authorized rest stop program for over two and a half years, both at Lane County Behavioral Health and also at the Eugene Mission. This move to southeast Eugene involves NHS transitioning from a rest stop to a car camping program, allowing them to continue to help a smaller number of unhoused individuals while they and the City continue to look for a long-term site for their operations.
Car camping areas have strict rules to help ensure residents are good neighbors to surrounding residents and businesses alike. These rules include: no disruptive behavior; no drugs or alcohol; evening quiet hours; regulated hours to be on and off site; and planning requirements for next steps that help each resident progress towards a more permanent housing situation. There are about 70 permitted car camping sites in the Eugene/Springfield area, most of them located on the property of churches and businesses.
Good Samaritan is aware of the site’s operations and plans, and has met several times with City staff and two of the future site residents. The huts will be located on the northeast corner of the lot, and the site will have fencing for added privacy, as well as a porta-potty and trash service.
Participants in the car camping and rest stop programs want to improve their life situation and work very hard to be good neighbors. These programs have been effective at moving people from unsafe and unsanctioned places to a managed space that has the structure and support needed to help them transition and improve their lives.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact Regan Watjus in the City Manager’s Office at (541) 682-8442 or Regan.S.Watjus@ci.eugene.or.us.
To get involved with neighborhood support efforts for Nightingale Health Sanctuary (NHS) residents, contact Heather Sielicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new south Eugene car camp will be fenced and it will have portable toilets and garbage pickup. Both car camps and rest stops prohibit disruptive behavior and drugs or alcohol. They both work to connect tenants to social services to help them find jobs and housing.
Regan Watjus, the city’s policy coordinator on homelessness, said finding rest stop locations is challenging because officials consider numerous factors, including its suitability for camping, access for trash pickup, portable restroom service and emergency vehicles and proximity to neighborhoods, schools, and transit and bike paths.
Heather Sielicki, president of the Southeast Neighbors, said representatives of her neighborhood association and four others have convened a working group to identify possible rest stop locations in south Eugene.
Similar work is being done by neighborhood associations in north Eugene and along River Road, she said.
“It definitely takes a long time to find something that meets the criteria,” she said.
Watjus said the 34th and Hilyard location had been on a previous list of possible rest stop sites…