The city of Eugene and St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County have started a day storage facility where unhoused community members can drop their belongings. The PODS storage container is located in downtown Eugene, and is mainly intended for people who don’t have another place to store their stuff, which requires them to lug it around so it doesn’t get stolen.
This storage facility provides a daytime solution to the problem, and SVDP employees staffing the storage say the response downtown has been positive.
Roxann O’Brien, the director of the SVDP Lindholm Center, is one of the people approached by the city to start the project. “We see where people are struggling with all their belongings on their back,” she says. “I think, number one, their bodies will be saved a little bit.”
Judith Baker has been using the facility. She says it has been valuable to have a place to store her things while she is dealing with some personal problems that require her to be mobile, not carrying a lot of stuff. She watched as a man came up to the facility, frustrated because the things he left the day before weren’t there anymore — the PODS are emptied at the end of each day. “It’s going to be helpful,” Baker says. “But it’s too bad it’s not available 24 hours.”
The facility is located in an otherwise empty lot by The Kiva grocery store at Olive Street and 11th Avenue. Melissa Brown, one of the owners of The Kiva, says she was trying to get something to fill the lot, which has been vacant for a while and has filled up with trash and become an environmental hazard. “Anything is better than this empty lot,” Brown says. This project goes along with other efforts from the city of Eugene to clean up the downtown area and make it safer.
Lack of 24-hour access aside, the facilities have been popular so far. O’Brien said 61 people accessed the facility in the first four days it was open, and more are expected as the word gets out.
The PODS storage facility is at 11th Avenue and Olive Street in downtown Eugene. It is open every day of the week from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.