Eugene merchants and area homeless agree to disagree… as attempt to resolve growing discord between opposing factors fails miserably to settle any issue at hand.
The Eugene Oregon Homeless debate is far from settled.
Wednesday afternoon found the Eugene Downtown Neighborhood Committee, holding an open door meeting at the Downtown public library for concerned business owners and neighbors, impacted by a growing homeless presence in Downtown Eugene.
According to organizers, the intent of the meeting was to present an opportunity for business owners, neighbors, as well as the homeless, to voice their views and concerns generated by an ongoing decade long conflict, brewing in the civic center of the Eugene Metroplex.
Due to unexpectedly large attendance, it was decided by the organizers of the meeting to restrict comments and questions to a card based question and answer exchange.
The conversation that ensued was rendered worthlessly ineffective by the slow pace of question submittal, interlaced with the verbal abuse of attending indigents.
Representatives of the Eugene homeless made it abundantly clear that they felt discriminated against, and in-fact believed that they had little to no voice in the community.
Representatives of Cahootz, The Eugene Homeless kitchen ,Lane County Women’s Shelter, Eugene Police Department, as well as Oregon A.C.L.U. was present to field questions submitted by a restless crowd via index cards.
In the opinionated view of Sergeant Fitzpatrick of the Eugene Police Department:
The homeless are entitled to humanitarian respect within the mandated compliance of Eugene Oregon as well as State Law. Fitzpatrick went on to state that the homeless had rights in the state of Oregon, but that public interference, intimidation as well as verbal threat upon the citizenry did not fall under their constitutional bill of rights.
It was made apparent by a few of the questions read, that many Eugenians did not feel safe in the Downtown merchant district, and were intimidated by the growing population of wandering homeless indigents.
Officer Fitzpatrick, a seasoned downtown police veteran, explained that it was not against the law to loiter, pan-handle, nor beg in Eugene. And that the public sidewalks in effect belong to the public.
However, according to Fitzpatrick, as well as the Civil liberty Representative, area business owners had the right to clear an entry to their business of indigents, as well as ask anyone not wanted on the premises to leave.
It was shared with the ever restless crowd that Eugene Oregon was rated by an undisclosed national homeless website as the best place to be homeless on the West Coast.
Bullet Points: Free access to health care and mental services for teenaged runaways.
A high financial success rate for Pan Handlers.
Free quality meals available to all homeless travelers over the age of 18 willing to present an I.D., compliments of the Eugene Homeless food Kitchen.
It was evident well before the conclusion of the town hall meeting that the growing homeless issue, and its impact on Downtown merchants and tourism would remain unresolved for months to come.
Officer Fitzpatrick suggested that one not encourage the homeless through hand-out while visiting Downtown Eugene Oregon.