'The idea is to provide the housing first': Lane County embraces Operation 600
EUGENE, Ore. - Drug addiction. Chronic unemployment. Mental health issues.
The challenges facing people trying to get off the streets and end the cycle of homelessness are many.
But Lane County Commissioners have given the green light on a new effort to get at those problems: Operation 600.
"The idea is to provide the housing first, allow the person to heal and recover, and then make progress towards their self-sufficiency," said Steve Manela, Lane County Human Services manager.
The premise of the program is to build 600 new units for the chronically homeless in the next 5 years.
The housing would be coupled with mental health services, job training and more.
"We have the ability maybe even to help with some of the chronic issues and helping people manage their chronic conditions," Commissioner Jay Bozievich said.
Two Eugene sites have been proposed for the first projects: one next door to Lane County Mental Health off MLK Boulevard, the other at the corner of 13th and Tyler - essentially the northwest corner of the Lane County Fairgrounds.
"When you build in a neighborhood like this, you engage with the neighbors and the fairgrounds staff and board obviously," said Jacob Fox, Housing and Community Service Agency director.
It's a $10 million investment to try to get more people off the streets.
"We would bring a lot of people together to talk about the innovative ways that we're going to achieve our goal," Commissioner Pat Farr said.
Farr wants the county to hold a kickoff summit meeting next spring to get non-profit groups and the private sector behind the new program.