Reducing Homelessness in our Community
The number of people who go un-sheltered is a tragedy. I believe our goal should be that homelessness is brief, rare, and non-recurring.
Eugene is moving forward on housing the homeless; and we will accomplish even more when I’m on the City Council. In addition to the TAC plan I would provide leadership on effective grassroots solutions. For example, The Mission is willing to donate land and buildings to other community organizations in order to provide more wraparound services all in one place. This would be structured so government funding wouldn’t be at risk. The Mission provides shelter for 350-400 people per night including women and children. They serve 700+ meals per day.
It’s now legal to camp in the UGB, we can allow temporary camp grounds within the UGB now. We can also make it legal to car camp in areas where it makes sense. Laurelwood made car camping legal on their problem spot. It’s no longer a problem spot. Capitalizing on our existing partnerships and creating new ones where needed, is so important. The key to solving this, and other problems, is collaboration and connection.
I want to give a shout out and thank you to all the amazing people in our community coming together to find solutions. We are so fortunate in Eugene to have caring and effective non-profits like Square One Villages, Community Supported Shelters, Sponsors, St. Vincent de Paul, Homes For Good, Nightengale, The Mission, House Everybody, White Bird, Backyard Barnraising, and others who are working tirelessly to help the most vulnerable among us; people who have fallen on hard times, and people with criminal histories who deserve a second chance.
Continue reading for a deeper dive into the Housing Feasibility Study
I support the Lane County Shelter Feasibility Study, finished in December 2018, by a consulting group called the Technical Assistance Collaborative, or TAC.
I will insist we fully fund this plan, resulting in:
The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) developed this report as part of a Public Shelter Feasibility study commissioned by Lane County in collaboration with the City of Eugene.
The report outlines ten key recommendations for the City of Eugene, Lane County, and its partners to address the current homeless crisis with a particular focus on unsheltered homelessness among single adults.
The recommendations include strategies to address system-wide issues as well as the need for low-barrier emergency shelter beds. The key system-wide recommendations are as follows:
- Expand and better coordinate outreach services by proactively engaging people who are on the streets or living in places not meant for human habitation (cars, tents, abandoned buildings, etc.) and connecting them to services – these activities are a key part of ending homelessness in any community.
- Expand diversion and rapid exit services strategies, which is an emerging practice whereby individuals or families seeking emergency services are immediately engaged in an exploratory conversation to determine if there are alternative options, even if temporary, that would help them avoid or quickly exit literal homelessness.
- Expand and better coordinate rapid re-housing (RRH) resources. RRH uses a progressive and individualized manner to provide short- to medium-term rental assistance, along with housing-focused services, in an effort to rapidly move households out of homelessness.
- Create additional permanent supportive housing (PSH) and increase utilization, as Lane County has a significant population of highly vulnerable, long-term homeless individuals in both sheltered and unsheltered situations. The current PSH units throughout the county are underutilized and inadequate in meeting the needs of the community.
- Implement effective move-on strategies, which are an emerging practice that allows mainstream or other affordable housing subsidies or units to replace the subsidy of a PSH project and thus free up the intensive service package a PSH project has to offer.
- Expand and increase utilization of tenancy supports. While rental assistance and subsidies are an important component in ending homelessness, tenancy supports also play a critical role in ensuring clients can maintain their housing permanently.
- Increase effectiveness of coordinated entry. A community’s coordinated entry system is the primary mechanism for ensuring that those experiencing homelessness are connected to interventions that will rapidly end their homelessness.
- Create centralized and coordinated landlord and housing partner management; landlords and other housing partners are critical stakeholders in the effort to end homelessness.
- Provide training to ensure implementation of best practices, as training and professional development are critical to any homeless crisis response system. High staff turnover, evolving practices and promising models, unique client needs, and the overall need for highly specialized services all contribute to the need for ongoing training.
- In addition to the above nine system-wide recommendations, TAC recommends that Lane County develop a new year-round low-barrier emergency shelter to serve 75 people.
Essentially, The Shelter Feasibility report recommends that Lane County capitalize on its existing partnerships with the City of Eugene, local non-profit service providers, the local community, emergency first responders, and elected officials to plan, implement, operate, and evaluate the recommendations in this report.
To read the full study see:
The implementation of the plan outlined in the TAC study will take money. The consultants included a section on funding possibilities – a variety of federal and state grants and loans which will help fund the plan.
Another funding source that I’ve identified, and could potentially have more flexibility is the Transient Room Tax (TRT) that the city receives from Air BnB and other e-rental sharing economy platforms like VRBO and HomeAway. Right now, by state law, those monies are funneled exclusively into tourism related activities. In the City of Eugene that translates into all TRT going to our Cultural Services Department. The number of homeless people in our community is a crisis. We can all agree on that. We need to divert the TRT from homesharing platforms; and spend that tax revenue on homeless shelters and affordable housing programs. The TRT the city receives from Air BnB is over $1.2 million in 2018 alone.
I’d also like to talk about the progress that’s being made on the Shelter Feasibility Study. I believe it’s so important to focus on successes. The more we talk about our successes as a community, I’m convinced, the more we’ll be able and willing to build on them.
At a recent Neighborhood Leaders Council Housing Committee Meeting, the following progress report on sheltering our homeless population was given:
- Eugene and Lane County siting team formed and evaluating possible sites
- The shelter will provide 75 low barrier beds and a navigation center that connects people to additional services and housing
- In the meantime, City and County partnered to double the capacity of the Dawn 2 Dawn shelter which now has capacity to serve about 200 people per night
Permanent Supported Housing
- Eugene and Lane County are partners in the construction of 51 new units of permanent supportive housing as part of the MLK Commons project which broke ground on November 14
- The County also provided $1.5 million in funding to support development of 40 additional units of permanent supportive housing – including rural units – through partner agencies
- This housing will be available to some of the hardest to serve – those who experience chronic homelessness
Mobile Street Outreach Team
- City staff have actively engaged people with lived experience and community partners to inform program services and structure. Outreach included partnering with those with lived experience to reach more than 300 people
- City and County are developing an agreement for staffing and contracting with local service providers
- Expected to launch in early 2020
- Lane County and the City of Eugene staff are meeting with Homes for Good to explore process for use one-time funding to create to create a pilot incentive program for landlords who will make their properties available to people experiencing homelessness
Strategic Initiatives Manager
- Working with professional recruitment firm to search nationally and find best possible candidate for our community
- This position will lead the process of building more supportive housing and opening the low barrier shelter and navigation center