Homelessness in Eugene

By Ryan Lundquist

The homeless are all over Eugene, flocking here from around the country. You may give them some spare change or leftover food, more often avoiding eye contact to dodge the feeling of guilt when you just drive past. But what is their real story? More importantly, what is their impact on the local area and what is being done to help them, if anything?

After seeing so many homeless people in Eugene, residents are unaffected by the impoverishment and squalor that is easily seen with the city’s homeless population — and for good reason. As conforming to common homeless stereotypes, some 46% of the homeless reported alcohol abuse within the past year and 38% have reported a problem with drug use. This lack of personal care and self-respect causes people to lose sympathy for this down-and-out corner of society that is so easily ignored, even when a lot of them have backgrounds like you and me.

This increased population of homeless created a divide between those who want to help the homeless, and those who didn’t want to be bothered by the growing and dirty homeless population intruding on their well defined and organized lives. But there are two sides to every story, right? More families are being put out on the street, and an increase in regular healthy citizens becoming homeless is adding to the burden placed on our government and cities.

Action is being taken to address the problem of homelessness. Policies like the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 are being used to support the homeless population, and more importantly prevent the homeless population from growing. Eugene has a variety of shelters and services that are helping to reinstate the homeless back into our society.

I hope the shed light on not only the homeless population and people that are helping them, but also on families that are close to or have experienced homelessness.