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City prepares to open pilot overnight homeless site

EUGENE — The first of two overnight homeless sites in Eugene is tentatively scheduled to open Friday at the St. Vincent de Paul service station.

The overnight sites are pilots for the Dusk to Dawn program, which was created by the city council in November, reported the Register-Guard. It provides city-approved locations for homeless people to stay between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.

The service station site will provide a heated tent that can accommodate up to 20 people. It will be staffed by two St. Vincent de Paul employees.

"We're pleased that we can offer these services for homeless people, particularly during the winter months," said St. Vincent de Paul spokesman Paul Neville. "We continue to rely on the generosity of the community to support these services."

The tent won't be open every night. It's currently scheduled to be open for overnight sleeping this Friday and Saturday; on Dec. 25 and 26; on two nights during the first week of January; and on three nights every week between the second week of January and the end of March, according Neville.

The second site is in the parking lot of Lane County Behavioral Health and is only for car camping. It's not clear yet when that site will open or which nights it will be open.

It will accommodate up to five vehicles.

The Eugene City Council unanimously approved both sites on Monday, although some councilors said they were concerned about most authorized homeless camping spots being clustered in northwest Eugene's Ward 7.

"That area cannot be the focus ground for every sleeping site that we have in this community," said Councilor Greg Evans, who represents a neighboring ward. "There needs to be a distribution, an equitable distribution of sleeping sites around the community if we're going to be fair to everybody."

Ward 7 representative Councilor Claire Syrett agreed.

The Dusk to Dawn program will expire on March 31 unless the council takes action.