In a letter dated March 12, the Homelessness and Poverty Work Group asks the city to take action in light of Oregon’s state of emergency regarding COVID-19. The work group is a subcommittee of the Eugene Human Rights Commission.
Since Gov. Kate Brown ordered the ban of events drawing more than 250 people Wednesday, March 11, the work group says the city should focus more resources to help the unhoused.
The work group lists six ways the City Council could help people experiencing homelessness, who live without adequate health care but are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.
It also suggests the city suspend police sweeps and implement shelter-in-place protocols during the state emergency.
“People need enough sleep to keep their immune systems up and should not be forcibly deprived of medications and survival gear during the crisis,” the letter says.
The city should also enact a moratorium on towing vehicles that house people, as well as provide adequate access to hygienic facilities around known campsites that would provide a space with toilets and bathing and handwashing amenities, the work group writes.
The city’s website says it’s currently increasing cleaning in offices, facilities and community centers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also increasing communications throughout the city about proper hygiene.
The letter also recommends replacing Eugene police with trained outreach workers to support the unhoused and to distribute supplies such as drinking and washing water, hand sanitizer, food, public health information and where to access medical care.
The city should open an emergency shelter space and facilitate transportation assistance and accessible care for people financial barriers or physical and/or mental disabilities, the letter says.
The Homelessness and Poverty Work Group meets 2 pm on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month in the Sloat Room on the first floor of the Atrium Building.
The full letter is below.