EUGENE, Ore. — The city of Eugene is set to expand its homeless rest stops.
The Eugene City Council granted that extension earlier this month.
The camp at Roosevelt and Garfield is one of three in good standing set to go from 15 to 20 campers.
“It’s our home for now. We’re trying to make the best of it,” said Sherri Newman, homeless camper.
With a hot plate to keep them warm, in a tent cramped with their sleeping bags it’s not the easiest holiday season for the Newmans.
“We all try to help each other as much as we can you know to make the load easier because it really hurts to be homeless,” said Sherri Newman.
Two and a half years ago Gary Newman lost his job.
Since then, the couple have been homeless.
But the community of huts and tents is their shelter.
“If they do their part and we all help each other that you know this is a great thing that’s going on here and it can get bigger and better,” said Gary Newman.
“Seems to be true of a lot of sort of cooperative communities out there that around 20, 25 people is a good upper limit,” said Praise, Site Manager.
Welcoming another five people to the grounds is something Praise says it can handle, with little crime at the rest stop.
But a no trespassing sign outside the Strossburg’s home is a posted suggestion of a different story.
“We’ve called the police twice. They drink across the street, they throw beer cans in here. They antagonize our dogs,” said Susan Strassburg, Eugene resident.
Strassburg and her daughter Brenna live right across the street from the rest stop and do not support the expansion.
“Our cars have been broken into. I can’t say that it’s them at the camp. But we never had problems before,” said Strassburg.
“They’re not actually bettering themselves and moving on they’re just using that as their forever home,” said Micah Wren, Eugene resident.
Neighbor Wren isn’t pleased with the idea either, noting getting a job and getting out of the rest stop would be a smart move.
A sentiment all too familiar for campers.
“Hecklers come by and yell things like ‘get a job’ well some of us in here do have jobs. Most of them don’t pay much,” said Raymond Shields, homeless camper.
“We’re going to save our pennies. We’re going to put a down payment on a van and go around and travel up and down the coast and I don’t know where we’re going to land,” said Sherri Newman.
Despite living in tents, many of the people who live at the rest stop say they’re trying to get back on their feet.
A place that may be mistaken as a final destination for some, and a ruckus to the community.
Praise says they’ve had significant problems with three or four people who have since been kicked off the site.
Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett says to her knowledge all three rest stops are in good standing.