Eugene is a ghost town these days. People are too scared to move beyond their sealed homes. Events everywhere have been postponed or flat-out canceled.
It’s eerie, to say the least.
Yet a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic has materialized in Eugene.
The Egan Warming Center, which provides shelter to the unhoused on the coldest nights, has a new temporary home. It’s at the Lane Events Center at the Lane County Fairgrounds, temporarily replacing the multiple faith-based locations and Lane Community College for the final three-plus weeks of the Egan season.
The fairgrounds location became available when the annual Lane County Home and Garden show canceled. The first activation at the new site is Saturday, March 14.
The novel coronavirus got the ball rolling the week of March 9, when LCC and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church volunteers expressed concern about the pandemic. At the same time, six other Egan sites were having reservations about hosting the program.
Tim Black, winter strategies coordinator at St. Vincent de Paul, the nonprofit behind the Egan program, says he understands the concern.
“Our sites are amazing,” Black says. “We love them.” He notes, though, that “it’s tough on churches” to take part in the program because most of their volunteers are elderly.
“All of our sites are feeling that pressure,” Black says. His message to the army of volunteers is, “We got it from here.”
The Springfield site at 765 A Street and the youth site at First United Methodist Church remain in operation along with the new Lane Events Center site
More information about Egan Warming Center can be found at EganWarmingCenter.com.
This article was originally published by Eugene Weekly, which like dozens of news organizations throughout the state, is sharing its coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving heath issue.