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New temporary shelter for homeless people opening in Eugene to help combat COVID-19 spread

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EUGENE, Ore. — New temporary shelter sites for the unhoused are opening this week in Eugene.

It's part of the area's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shelter sites that opened last week at the Amazon and Hilyard Community Centers filled quickly. Officials have looked now to northwest Eugene, to set up the next two.

The new shelters are going in at the Petersen Barn Community Center in the Bethel area. Small groups of people can stay in tents or vehicles with appropriate social distancing.

Officials say the goal is to protect homeless people and the broader community from the spread of COVID-19.

Spaces are available by referral only.

“Folks who would like to stay at these designated shelters have to go there first and they’re referred from White Bird to one of these shelters,” said Brian Richardson, the spokesman for Eugene Public Works. “As part of that referral, they get health screening as well.”

Richardson says the sites at Petersen Barn will accommodate up to six vehicles or ten people for car camping, and space for up to ten people in tents. He expects these shelter spaces will fill by the end of the week.

“We have, once these two are filled, which we anticipate that they will be filled by the end of the week, then we’ll have those four,” Richardson said. ”Then we’ll reassess kind of where we are at and make arrangements for the next potential sites.

Existing temporary shelter sites at the Amazon and Hilyard Community Centers were opened on April 6th. Both hit capacity at nine people each.

All shelter sites are staffed and have food and water supplies.

Those sites are managed by White Bird and Carry It Forward, a local homeless service provider.

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