Pat Walsh, Chair of the Lane County Poverty and Homelessness Board, and Alexandra Dreher, MSW. from the Lane County Human Services Division, explained the Board’s role in supporting local organizations who work to address poverty and homelessness in Eugene and Lane County.
The Board was established in 2014 and primarily advises the Lane County Board of Commissioners. They also distribute millions of dollars from the federal government to help people and local organizations that are working with homeless people to provide the next hand up, rather than hand out.
The board is composed of people with low incomes, community members and elected officials or their designees. There are 15 voting members including Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, and Noreen Dunnells, president and CEO of United Way of Lane County. There are 7 non-voting members as well.
Committees include the health care workgroup, the youth homelessness solutions workgroup, the shelter and supportive housing development committee, the employment committee, and more.
The strategic plan includes:
- 600 new permanent supportive housing opportunities. This includes a 50 unit Housing First project on MLK Blvd. due to begin construction in 2019.
- 120 units of seasonal emergency shelter through Dusk to Dawn
- 40 safe parking spaces for homeless persons living in their vehicles
- Expanded rapid rehousing funding using the State of Oregon Emergency Housing Account funds
- Implementation of the Frequent User System Engagement (FUSE) program
A few additional facts:
- The population of unsheltered grew 7% in 2017-18. We have an oversized population of homeless for the size of our community.
- People generally do not seek Eugene out as a “good place to be homeless”. Most people have a connection to Lane County.
- Most communities battle sustained funding to combat homelessness and struggle regarding best options.
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