January 20, 2021

Opportunities for Better Community Planning around Housing and Homelessness

Drawing of unhoused encampment

The following is a letter from Human Rights Commissioner Heather Sielicki to the Eugene Planning Commission:

Hello Planning Commissioners,

I was inspired to see a Portland metropolitan multi-year regional effort secure $1 billion in revenue over the next 10-years to support housing needs. It’s going to take a long time to raise that kind of capital to address the crisis here in Eugene. Until that time, we need better planning.

In March 2018, the TAC report found 130 people per month were falling into homelessness. In 2020, economic and natural disasters have added even more displaced individuals to those in need of attainable housing. Our current count of people experiencing homelessness in Lane County is nearing 5,000 people. It’s going to take a long time to raise the community capacity to address the need for emergency sheltering here in Eugene.

We can not continue to use our limited resources in chronic crisis mode, spreading our parks and open space, crisis and law enforcement teams, public works, and city manager staff thin around homelessness. They are not equipped to manage the public health crisis component. It is time to follow the example of the Shelter to Housing Continuum project and “retool City codes to better address the homelessness crisis.” I believe the sheer scale and urgency of this need requires a similar approach here in Eugene.

I ask for your support in your roles as Commissioners, to prioritize this type of effort in 2021, and consider opportunities for better community planning around housing and homelessness in Eugene. 

Sincerely,
Heather Sielicki, Ward 2
Human Rights Commissioner