Residents note that homelessness is an issue within the neighborhood but also praise the efforts that have been made.
By Sarah Rough
Neighbors and business owners in the Jefferson Westside area consider homelessness an issue throughout the community.
Members of the community noted homeless individuals sleeping on storefront stoops and behind bushes in front of residential apartments, drinking water from private facets and relieving themselves on and around commercial property.
Business owner, Laura Betty of Euphoria Chocolates, affirmed that homeless people would sleep in front of the shop’s doorway and would use the property as a bathroom. Betty acknowledged that every one needs resources available to them, “You need a place to go to the bathroom and you need water to drink,” she said. Betty does not live in the JWN but works at the 17th and Willamette shop. She mentioned that churches in the area provide resources also with nonprofits such as Shelter Care.
The Jefferson School Apartments used to have tall bushes surrounding the building but when residents heard noises outside and found people sleeping right below the windows the hedges were removed. Kris Harry has lived in the apartments since the remodel and said that the bushes hid the individuals from the street but residents from the first floor apartments were startled when looking out the window at the sleeping individuals. Harry also noted the trash and beer cans found in the shrubs while they were being removed.
Shelia Scanlon and her mother lived in her car for six months after losing their jobs and had first hand experience of what it is like to not have a home. “It can happen to anyone,” she said. Scanlon praised Eugene for the resources provided to the homeless. “We do have more resources here than they do in other towns,” she said, “I came from the coast and they’ve got nothing down there”.
Scanlon and her mother went through the Catholic Community Services and utilized the Shelter Care through Springfield. “The Shelter Care helped us get back on our feet,” she said.
In the Jefferson Westside Neighborhood Shelter Care has the Uhlhorn Program, which specializes in brain injuries. Brenna Burton has been with the Uhlhorn Program for eight years, five volunteering and three employed, and described Shelter Care as a nonprofit organization helping to assist at need populations such as homelessness, women and children at risk of homelessness, and mental health. Shelter Care has various different pockets around Eugene. To learn more visit www.sheltercare.org.