Jefferson Westside residents share their thoughts on the issue of homelessness and drugs within their neighborhood
By Jasmine Eoff
Homelessness remains a big issue not only in the city of Eugene, but more specifically, within the Jefferson Westside neighborhood.
Employees of different local businesses all recognize this problem as one of the biggest issues within the neighborhood. Almost all of these businesses are affected by this issue, but some are more tolerant than others.
Edith Rivera has worked at El Jarro Azul for the last 11 years. Since she’s worked there, she claims homeless people come into her restaurant almost all the time. When asked how it affects her customers, Rivera said, “Yes more homeless people come in and ask for food and money and it bothers customers.” Although they may pose as a distraction for many of her customers Rivera never stops helping out the homeless. “Usually I give them a taco or burrito or rice and beans.” Although she makes them fresh meals when asked, once they are given food Rivera says she makes them eat the food elsewhere. Rivera knows that not everyone is as generous in making them fresh meals and she would like to see a change within the homeless community. “Hopefully there will be more help for them- help from church,” Rivera said.
The Laughing Planet is right next door to El Jarro Azul. Like El Jarro Azul, they have recognized homelessness as a neighborhood issue. Kyle Ryan has worked at the Laughing Planet for a year now and says, “They [homeless people] come in a lot.” Often times they come into the restaurant asking for free food, but the employees really try not to give out food. Even though this is a big issue and residents feel bad, they are still running a business and can’t be giving away free food to every homeless person. As Ryan puts it, “If it was a moral thing I’d just give them food but it’s my job and my responsibility is to make sure homeless people are not harassing customers.” Ryan also goes on to explain that since he’s been a resident, he’s seen little improvement on the issue and hopes to see the city making improvements on it.
Across the street is one of Jefferson Westsides most well-known and loved places to eat, Sweet Life. Although the bakery is known for their delicious sweets, it has also been affected by the neighborhood wide issue of homelessness. Brooke Borcherding has been working at Sweet Life for the last three weeks. She explains, “When I take out the trash in the bathroom I was trained never to squeeze the bag because there are dirty needles in there sometimes.” This issue of homelessness has also been included with the issue of drugs. While most residents feel safe around the neighborhood there are a few areas they stray from. “I see a lot of people in the park, I assume they are doing drugs…so I choose not to walk over there,” Ryan said.
Residents of the Jefferson Westside neighborhood recognize this issue of homelessness and drugs and hope to see improvements on it in the future.