People who live in a vehicle have a sanctuary in Eugene Oregon becoming one of the first communities in the country to allow the St. Vincent De Paul Society to establish 15 sites throughout the city in which homeless people can park their vehicles and stay for up to 90 days. Another 60 sites were offered by non-profit organizations, churches, and local area businesses. The Homeless Grapevine had in the past had regular submissions from Bridgett Reilly one of those who slept in her camper and fought in court for the right to be left alone.
Each site has a trashcan; a portable toilet and can have no more than three non-abandoned vehicles. Eugene claims nearly 2,000 people homeless every night, and cannot meet that demand with shelters or even with the parking program. Representative of St. Vincent DePaul estimate over 100 people participate in the vehicle parking program while other find illegal places to park.
Santa Cruz, California
The Santa Cruz City Council voted to return to enforcing a “no camping” ordinance within the city limits, Camp Paradise had sprung up near the San Lorenzo River fear that they will be ticketed. Church and community activists have staged vigils at the camp to act as legal observers. There are other proposals to rotate the camps in various parks or require community service in exchange for campsites. Currently City Council is studying those other options.
Oakland, CA homeless go underground
Oakland police are attempting to discourage the underground encampment that has sprung up in the Downtown area. The group bootlegged power and made a home with appliances in an attempt to making a home. City officials estimate 9,000 homeless people and no where near that number of beds. Alameda county opens overflow shelters during the winter for Oakland’s homeless population. The Oakland police consider the conditions in the underground encampment so deplorable that they are restricting access and arresting anyone that attempts to return to the camp.
Copyright NEOCH published December 2001 in Cleveland Ohio for Issue 51