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Neighbors see rise in disturbances outside the Lane County Fairgrounds

The respite shelter at the Lane County Fairgrounds is a great resource for people in need, especially during a time like this. But local residents have a growing concern about an increase in disturbances from homeless people.

Posted: May 2, 2020 7:01 PM
Updated: May 2, 2020 8:25 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The respite shelter at the Lane County Fairgrounds hosts over 100 people in need. While it's been a great resource during a time like this, over the past three weeks, residents on 13th Avenue have been frustrated with the disturbances near their homes.

“It’s just been louder to the point where we’ve had to call the police numerous times,” said local resident Asher McClennahan. “Somebody even tried to break into our car and then our home. We’ve had a lot of people just fighting like full-on fistfights in the middle of 13th.”

McClennahan has compassion for these people’s situations but at the same time does not want his safety compromised.

“I care about these people and I’m glad I’m seeing these tents out here that White Bird is providing. But at the same time the mental health problem is so great that it is now infiltrating our neighborhood,” said McClennahan. “I don’t feel safe at home anymore. My partner doesn’t feel safe at home. We can’t sit in our backyard without hearing screaming every single day.”

While frustrations are high for homeowners around the neighborhood, homeless people said living inside the Fairgrounds is not the easiest thing given the amount of traffic going in and out of the facility.

One homeless man, who asked to not share his last name, said the issue stems from the proximity to one another within the shelter.

“There's 160 beds in there,” said homeless man Joshua. “Do you think 160 homeless people are all going to get along all the time? No!”

When they don’t get along and break the shelter’s code of conduct, they’re asked to leave.

“The ones that get kicked out from there come out here and camp out in tents,” said homeless woman Monica Robles, who has witnessed altercations in the past. “Most of them are on drugs or intoxicated. So that’s why they are fighting and causing a fuss out here.”

Although there have been reports of disturbances, one homeless man says those troubled individuals don’t represent the majority of people in need.

"As a homeless person it upsets me because it makes people like me look bad,” Shawn Viegas.

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