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Bethel residents voice concerns, praise for proposed boy's home

The multi-sided conversation included viewpoints about wanting the home to pave the way for future leaders, while others said the boys would be a disruption to the community.

Posted: Aug 1, 2018 9:44 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 8:52 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Members from St. Vincent de Paul, city officials, and community members met Wednesday to express concerns and praise for a proposed home for homeless boys in west Eugene. 

The three listening sessions occurred throughout the day Wednesday at the Fairfield Baptist Church in Eugene. 

The multi-sided conversation included viewpoints about wanting the home to pave the way for future leaders, while others said the boys would be a disruption to the community. 

Neighbors in the Bethel area said they want to feel included in the vetting process for the kids that would be living in the home. 

One community member said the home will boost the city's economy and will help the average homeless age rise. 

Another community member, Gary Alloway, said with issues of bullying on the rise, mixing high school aged boys with grade school aged boys could only be trouble. 

"Out of 98 percent of kids, maybe two percent aren't going to make it or maybe they're going to go over there and bully kids or you know, you have concerns like that," Alloway said. "The way society is now, it's not like it was 30 years ago. It's totally different."

Alloway and other community members said they wished they were informed earlier on in the process, but said the meeting answered a lot of questions they had.

Some of those questions included security for the kids, the vetting process, and services for the boys. 

Project coordinator for St. Vincent de Paul Lane County, Paul Neville, said like the youth home for girls, there will be background checks required for the boys, night security to monitor them and a strict guest policy. 

Neville said there will be services offered to help the boys get on their feet such as education programs and jobs to introduce them into the workforce.

Neville said he found Wednesday's meetings productive. 

"I thought it was really good that people on both sides of the issue showed up," Neville said. "People expressed themselves honestly and I thought -- my feeling is it ended with people feeling a new sense of respect and hearing each other, and that's kind of where relationships begin." 

City officials said they will use the feedback from the listening sessions to keep other neighbors in the loop and hope to continue more "door to door" outreach. 

More listening sessions will be held on Thursday and Friday. To attend, you must register here or call St. Vincent de Paul community engagement coordinator Ashely Hensley at 541-743-7147. 

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