EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene City Council voted 6-2 to approve a $1.9 million homeless plan on Wednesday.
The Homeless Systems Implementation Plan is a three-year plan that calls for an emergency shelter, more affordable housing and more. The plan will be funded by taxpayer money from the city's general fund.
The councilors met at noon to discuss the proposal. The city will set aside time in the near future for the public to weigh in before the plan is finalized.
The money will be used in a total of four ways:
- $260,000 will go towards outreach efforts and incentives for landlords to create affordable housing.
- $525,000 will support a new managerial position to oversee the projects.
"We are eager to have the strategic initiatives manager on board," said Mayor Lucy Vinis. "The public is asking us to make progress and we made progress today."
- Over $800,000 will also be allocated for an emergency shelter, which proved to be a controversial subject for the council.
The shelter would be a sprung structure, which is a tent-like building made of aluminum and covered by a durable, air-tight, weather-resistant material. City staff said it could fit 75 individuals overnight at 5,200 square feet. The funding would only pay for the purchase and construction of the structure, however. Funding for operational costs would need to come from another source.
The matter of the location of the structure, as well as its function, are still undecided, leaving some councilors uneasy.
"I'm not willing to commit millions of the public's money until we know how it will be spent," said Ward 5 Councilor Mike Clark.
Ward 2 Councilor Betty Taylor also expressed concerns.
"I'm concerned that the money might be diverted into something that is temporary," said Taylor.
KEZI 9 News also talked to Christopher Kashmer, who has walked in the footsteps of those without a home.
"There was a point in time where I did not have the means to house myself. But only because of substance abuse," Kashmer said.
So, he knows the feeling of needing help.
"They're human beings. They have human rights," he said.
Kashmer's visiting family in downtown Eugene, where KEZI 9 News met him playing a public piano in the heart of the city's homeless crisis.
"Think about rehabilitation. Not just masking a problem, but give them actual resources to get on their feet or means in which to get sober," he said.
Below is the proposed breakdown and timeline associated with the plan: