Homeless people thrive in Eugene much like anywhere else in the world, but in downtown Eugene it is one of the main problems. The abundance of homeless people is downtown is one of the reasons for lack of economic boom. Frankly, people are scared to go downtown because they don’t want to be harassed.
“They scare people away, deter people from going downtown,” said 22 year old Rainey Desiervo. “It takes away the experience, and it’s not as nice of an area anymore”.
Desiervo went on to talk about how people feel constantly harassed by the homeless for money or food.
Since more people don’t go to downtown Eugene, it hurts the local businesses.
“They all feel that they deserve free food,” said Voodoo Doughnut employee Kendra Breed. Voodoo Doughnut is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week and they are a constant problem. They also feel that they deserve the day old doughnuts for free
and their presence scares away potential costumers.
There is also a different perspective regarding the homeless problem in downtown.
“We spread fear and we don’t need to,” said 64 year old Gerry Gaydos. He went on to talk about how Eugene is a mixed bag of people. He believes the problem with downtown is more so the issue with downtown having too many empty building and not being active. There is an abundance of empty buildings and not a lot of reasons for people to go down to downtown. Gaydos did admit that there is a feeling fear in downtown. When people talk about downtown is it one of the main problems that come up. There is a building being built in the middle of downtown that Gaydos feels will help revive downtown.
In the 1960’s, there was a movement to make a city walk or promenade down Willamette Street. They did this by closing off the street and making it a walk a way. This was done to make downtown more active and a way to lure people to downtown. When this happened homeless people flocked to downtown. Sadly, in the late 1960’s Valley River Center opened and downtown died along with it. Willamette is now back to being an open street and downtown is still trying to recover. With the empty buildings in downtown, there is not much of a reason to go there, but businesses are slowly starting to make its way back to downtown. The homeless people will always be a problem added Gaydos, but it is whether or not downtown can be reactivated.
There will be a restaurant and stores that will help make people want to come downtown Gaydos said.
“I’m believing in downtown,” said Gaydos.