The Whit. It’s difficult to understand where exactly the Whit stands economically. Residents are artist, nonconformist and live by the seed of their pants. Steve Lewis, resident of 20 years, works hard during the summer in order to drink beers and socialize with friends during the winter. Some years he’ll pay his rent up to four months in advance.
In order to talk about the employment in the Whiteaker you must first decide whom to include; the people who live in the Mission, street people, students, old people, artist? What types of jobs do you consider work?
Is Myron McMurren employed? He is a middle-aged man who lives at the Mission. McMurren drives a truck from 8:30-3:30 Monday through Friday in exchange for $25 stipend and roof over his head. Some Residents of the Whit work enough to cover their life’s expenses and rely on their friends for help them during hard times.
If you talk with anyone who has been around Eugene or lived in the Whit for an extended period of time they’ll tell you about the changes in the past 10 years. Marion Malcolm said, “This was a neighborhood other parts of Eugene use to call Felony Flats.” Only minutes away from the Mission, the commercial district on Blair Street between 3rd Street and 7th Street receive a lot of foot traffic from homeless.
Joe Oatman said, “It’s the worst year ever. There where people out here jobless, homeless. Maybe a hundred. Now there is quadruple.” Oatman lived on the Whiteaker streets in the late 80’s and now he gives back to the community by volunteering at the Egan Warming Center by Autzen Stadium. The organization plans on opening up four new facilities in greater Eugene to feed the influx.
At the Mission McMurren has noticed an increase in both women and family occupants. Some of who have part time jobs and or collect food stamps. The Mission has recently purchased more space to expand their capacity.
Lewis said how the flow money can be unstable. He is carpenter and receives work by word of mouth. Things are slow for him. His ability to work will come to a halt soon as he anticipates a hernia surgery. Luckily for Lewis he has a friend that is willing to provide a place to stay.
It’s difficult to say whether or not the Whit has been heavily affected by the economic crisis. It’s a neighborhood where some people try not to give into the man. They want stay off the radar.