Fairgrounds respite shelter lacks security, resident says

For many, the temporary respite shelters have been a source of relief for our county's unhoused, but some people who live in these shelters say that social distancing isn't being followed and they don't feel safe.

Posted: Apr 5, 2020 5:28 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2020 6:11 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- For many, the temporary respite shelters have been a source of relief for our county's unhoused, but some people who live in Lane County's shelters say that social distancing isn't being followed and they don't feel safe.

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Dawn Rider has been at the Lane County Fairgrounds shelter a little less than a week and says that people inside aren't respecting the 6-foot social distancing guideline. 

She also claims there has been a lack of order. She said she wishes there was more security inside the shelter. 

"There should be a police presence of some sort of security," Rider said. "Somebody who specializes in security, we need some men standing around there."

She said she's grateful for the services St. Vincent de Paul, the organization who runs the shelter, have provided like food and hot showers.

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However, she said when things get unruly, nobody steps in.

The director for St. Vinnies said security is organized by Lane County. A representative with the county said that they have contracted security who keep order outside the shelter and intervene when police may be necessary, but everything that goes on within the shelter is up to the organization.

Rider says that they were required to sign conduct agreements Saturday.

"It got a little better yesterday when everybody had to read the rules and sign a paper saying they had," she said.

The greement included items like staying 6 feet away from one another and respecting space. 

As for the attitude of the group, she said boredom has gotten the best of some. She said one thing she wishes they had was any sort of entertainment.

The shelter is on a three-week contract with the county with the possibility of extension.

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