The headline news of council’s week was their approval of a one-time infusion of $8.6 million to strengthen our public safety services. The proposal is based on six months of community outreach, data collection and research by an interdepartmental staff team. The police and fire chiefs had both attended 26 community meetings to hear community concerns and priorities. The City had also issued an online survey to complement a phone survey conducted earlier in the year.
This one-time infusion will support a full array of services, including the addition of 10 police officers as a rapid response unit, increased investment in youth services like 15th Night to reduce youth homelessness, and the creation of a day center for homeless adults, as well as to enable the Dusk to Dawn winter shelter to become a year-round program.
Over the 18 months of this investment, beginning in January 2019, the City will develop strategies for a more robust, sustainable funding that would continue to build.
In a complementary process, our conversation about a permanent homeless shelter is scheduled for October 10th at the noon meeting, with a public meeting that night. Our decisions about the shelter will dovetail with these increased public safety investments.
This good news in timely. Council is receiving daily complaints from property owners of camping along sidewalks; and homeless advocates are pressing for relaxed camping bans in response to the Ninth Circuit Court decision regarding Boise’s anti-camping law.
At the end of the week, I joined Councilors Evans, Taylor and Semple for the three-day annual League of Oregon Cities conference, hosted this year in Eugene. Homelessness was the focus of the entire meeting on Saturday, beginning with four short sessions on specific issues; followed by a panel discussion. For all of our struggles, Eugene is a leader in successfully encouraging pilot programs that other cities are studying.