Crossfire Project Update, from St. Vincent de Paul, Director of Public Relations, Paul Neville

For 20 years, the St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) First Place Family Center (FPFC) has been a refuge and supportive place for low income families and children who are temporarily homeless or at risk of losing their homes due to job loss, health issues, or other circumstances. We provide a warm, secure space where people can have basic needs met (everything from cooking meals for their families to doing laundry and taking showers) ask advice, and connect with caring staff. For many, FPFC is a stable home base they’ve never had.

The existing FPFC building, a former food warehouse, was never intended for this purpose. It is more than a half century old and needs critical repairs. As the facility decays, demand for housing and services rises. To address the growing need, St. Vincent de Paul acquired a 14,000-sq. ft. church in December 2017 with a generous $2 million donation provided by an anonymous donor. “The Annex” will first accommodate the FPFC Dusk to Dawn program, which provides night housing for homeless families during winter months. Phase two will move the First Place Kids preschool to The Annex. Phase three will convert the church sanctuary into 19 apartments that will serve as 90-day temporary housing for the Interfaith Night Shelter program. The existing First Place facility will continue to operate as SVDP’s drop-in center for homeless families where clients must be screened and referred by staff to visit “The Annex.”

The rehabilitation and expansion of FPFC will have lasting positive impact on the city of Eugene and surrounding community. In helping homeless families address basic needs (food, showers, laundry, etc.), providing access to social services and community support, and addressing immediate housing needs, FPFC helps end the cycle of homelessness. This, in turn, reduces the cost to local government temporary housing, and reduces the number of people living on the streets.

The new FPFC Annex will be a true neighborhood asset and will have a dual function as a community center. The property will feature a community meeting room, public garden, playground, parking for neighbors utilizing the nearby running trail and Ridgeline Montessori School. St. Vincent de Paul will host picnics, movie nights, public forums, and other neighborhood events that bring people together and help eliminate the stigma and stereotypes surrounding homelessness. We believe this project will instill a strong sense of neighborly kinship and affinity, and we look forward to partnering with Southeast Neighbors.