Downtown Residents and Workers Voice Their Frustrations
by Kyle Brown
Due to the poverty-stricken streets of downtown Eugene and its wide array of problematic locals, residents and workers alike find themselves feeling unsafe at times in their own neighborhood.
Ruth Murphy, a supervisor at the Downtown Athletic Club, acknowledges that the homeless population in the downtown area poses a problem.
“If you go to certain areas at night it’s really not safe,” said Murphy, who is also a resident of downtown Eugene. “I don’t like to walk alone.”
Murphy also believes that as a result of the vast amount of homeless in the area, it can get pretty dirty.
Murphy is not alone in her concern of the problems that the disrupters cause in the area. Tiffany Cortez, a bartender at the Horsehead Bar for the last seven years, was mugged by a couple of men in the downtown area four years ago.
Her and her fiancé were walking to the Barack Obama election office when a man confronted them and started distracting them for some reason. Another man came from the alley behind them and knocked her fiancé on the ground, while the first man took Cortez’s purse and ran.
“When I called the police, they said they had other emergencies to deal with, so call again tomorrow,” said Cortez.
Another problem that Cortez sees in the community is the kids who pretend to be homeless and beg for money. She said that these kids more often than not come from well-off families who can afford certain luxuries such as cell phones and laptops. Cortez said that the addition of truancy officers in the downtown area would suffice as a solution to this problem.
On the other hand, Marilynn Larson, a volunteer at the Eugene Public Library, said that there are some troublesome people that visit the library at times.
“We once in awhile have some unruly people in the library because we get a lot of the street people especially in the winter when they come in to get warm,” said Larson.
Larson noted that the security guard usually takes care of those problems, but the Eugene Bike Police has been summoned only a few times in the last two years she has volunteered at the library. But then she reemphasized that these occurrences are “unusual” and that most people are using the library for its actual purposes like “looking for books or just coming in to use the bathroom and get warm.”
Larson also noted that people smoking outside of the library building when they aren’t supposed to is a reoccurring problem.