Homeless service center expands as illegal camps close

EUGENE, Ore. - Remodeling a building on Highway 99 will help a social service agency assist more of the homeless people being turned out of illegal camps in the West Eugene Wetlands.

Walls were being torn down on Friday as crews set to work on St. Vincent de Paul's Eugene Service Station off of Highway 99.

St. Vincent de Paul executive director, Terry McDonald, expects that number to grow as city, state and federal land managers shut down illegal homeless camps in the West Eugene Wetlands.

"For us, we anticipate more people coming through this year," McDonald said, adding, "We'll increase the capacity for seating and for meals and then just for the showers and laundry by about 75 percent."

The $189,000 remodel plan is funded by a Eugene Block Grant and includes more overnight storage space and room for a new commercial kitchen.

Ray Quilt said lack of space in the kitchen restricts raw and fresh food donations.

"I serve as a cook, I prepare meals for them twice a day. We'll be able to cook up more things than just using crock pots and things like able to use a real stove," said Quilt.

"Obviously if you have a way to slow people down, especially in the winter months, you make sure that they have their laundry taken care of, their showers are taken care of. Get them tied into vocational services," McDonald said of the benefits of their expansion.

The facility should be ready by October 1, McDonald said.

Plans call for:

  • Increasing the seating area by 75 percent
  • Providing overnight storage for 125 clients, so that they have a safe place to store belongings rather than having to pack them to appointments
  • A new commercial kitchen instead of crock pots and electric skillets.

St. Vincent de Paul said the new kitchen will provide two major benefits:

  • Efficient preparation of the 115,000 meals served annually and the ability to utilize the increasing amounts of raw/frozen/fresh items from FOOD for Lane County.
  • A commercial dishwasher will keep 5+ tons of food-contaminated paper and plastic waste from the landfill each year by sanitizing reusable cups, plates and utensils.

The community can help by making donations of durable dishes, utensils, cups, glasses, paper towels, paper napkins.

Donataions can be marked "for homeless" and dropped off at any St. Vincent de Paul Store or attended Collection Center.