Campers at Washington Jefferson Park in limbo as safe sleep sites pushed back

City officials told KEZI 9 News this process is taking longer than expected with the pandemic and other factors.

Posted: Sep 22, 2021 7:49 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The timeline for creating new safe sleep sites for the homeless is being pushed back and there's no date for when the planned sites will open, according to Eugene city officials.

The proposed safe sleep sites were supposed to open back in August, but officials told KEZI 9 News the process is taking longer than expected due to the pandemic and other factors.

Officials hoped the new sites would allow campers to relocate from Washington Jefferson Park and other camps to safe locations with restrooms, garbage service and other outreach programs. 

MORE: Eugene approves two new safe sleep sites

Kelly McIver with the city of Eugene said there are a lot of unknowns right now. 

"It just takes some time. It's happening in the middle of a pandemic, and that has created a whole lot of wrinkles in terms of the supply and delivery availability; there are certain things that are needed for those locations, so some things not going quite as quickly," said McIver.

McIver said in order for the process to be successful, everything has to be right. And making sure everything is right can take some time. 

One Eugene resident KEZI 9 News spoke with has been living off of Jefferson Street for nearly 20 years. She said the big move for campers under the bridge can't come soon enough. 

"I don't feel safe here; it's not a pleasant place to live anymore. I can't believe that the city council thinks it's OK to put 300 tents of drug addicts in a neighborhood and that's OK. And people are supposed to just live that way, for how long? I mean, it's ridiculous. It's not OK," said the resident. 

RELATED: Neighbors frustrated amid slow rollout of safe sleep sites

KEZI 9 News also spoke to several members of the homeless community at the Washington Jefferson Park campsite. One young woman, Lilian Prindle, said she lived under the bridge for nearly seven years until she was able to get things together. 

"Everybody deserves a second chance, but if you're OK with actually being in the addiction life and wanting to just live this way and not wanting to be up in a house, then why take that opportunity from somebody that can actually flourish and grow with it like I did?" said Prindle. 

Emily Semple, a Eugene city councilor, said there is a lot that goes into the process of relocating members of the homeless community. 

"It's hard because we can't see all of that, and we're tired of everything, and it needs to change; it needs to have changed. And it's not OK. And that's what I'm working on," said Semple. 

She also said she sympathizes with both neighbors and campers in the area. And she hopes campers will be relocated to the safe sleep sites before the winter weather hits, but she has no set date on when this will happen. 

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