Save Whoville

On Thursday, January 16th, The Eugene Police Department (EPD) announced that Whoville, located on the corner of Broadway and Hilyard, would be served with an eviction notice the following morning. The city of Eugene released a statement to the Register Guard that the evicted parties could either go to the approved rest-stop at Roosevelt and Garfield which is already at maximum capacity or that they could potentially receive assistance from local services to transition into safe and legal shelter; waiting lists are already frustratingly long. The mention of the city-approved Rest Stop has since been redacted.

The citizens of Whoville have courageously created a safety net for many who otherwise seek dubious refuge in various corners of the city. At Whoville they share supplies, food, clean water, bathrooms and a hand-washing station. The occupants check in on each other frequently as they depend on each other for physical and mental support.

Occupy Medical offers preventative treatment for many issues that commonly afflict Un-housed citizens during wintertime, including but not limited to: Influenza, H1N1, Bronchitis, Pneumonia/Atypical Pneumonia, Urinary Tract Infections, and an array of skin conditions such as Trench Foot and Frostbite. Dispersing this segment of our community puts OM out of their reach and at further risk for illness. By forcing Whoville to close without other viable shelter, the mental and physical well-being of these people are put at further risk. Under these circumstances, it is less likely that they will or can access the health care they need.

Life on the streets is dangerous. Sleep deprivation chips away at the body and the mind. Separating Eugene’s Whoville citizens from access to adequate healthcare is a serious issue. Separating Eugene’s Whoville citizens from a bathroom is a serious contamination issue for the entire community. Roughly 40-50 people stay at Whoville. That’s about 1500 pounds of fecal matter a month that mayno longer be disposed of in a sanitary manner, as stated by Alley Valkyrie.

We at Occupy Medical, feel compelled to remind you that two short weeks ago Mayor Piercy graciously bestowed an award of service upon OM, recognizing the importance of “…significant efforts to address the health needs of our community’s most vulnerable residents,” and we do implore you, City of Eugene and Eugene Police Department to:

-Cease and rescind the eviction.

-Find secure, safe, and legal shelter for these individuals.

-Make significant efforts to address the health needs of our community’s most vulnerable residents.

The eviction of Whoville will only increase the risk of exposure and transmission of illnesses that have been otherwise successfully prevented or treated with our partnership. We stand by our belief that health care is a human right and we care about the people in this community dearly. The removal and dispersal of the people of Whoville will have negative effects on us all.

Please, we implore you, don’t exile these people back to the shadows.

Respectfully

The Volunteers of Occupy Medical

Comments

  1. Dianne M. Cameron says

    I’m 75 years old and at the end of my wits and resources to keep living independently and, but for the help of my family, I would be one of these unhoused people. Please, please help these people and the many volunteers who give of their time, money, energy, and hearts to find a better solution than this.

  2. David Strahan says

    I have a surprising lengthy in-person conversation with Mayor Piercey this morning prior to the March. She is clearly aware of current housing shortages for the under housed in Eugene and is willing to listen to any and all options. One we spoke of is expanding current micro housing options, possibly even finding a land donor to start a community housing program. I made it very clear that the public would be outraged if the collective poop of the 40+ residents at Whoville was spread about the city instead of current sanitary situation.
    Conversation ended with her wish that we could all come together and discuss various solutions.

  3. Anand Holtham-Keathley says

    Here is one attempt to help our houseless citizens. It comes from Utah, a Republican state. Here is their homepage. http://www.theroadhome.org/ They are part of the Housing First movement. Here is their page on Rapid Rehousing. http://www.theroadhome.org/services/housing/rapid-rehousing/ They may be something in this model which could apply here. Looking at it from a medical perspective, being houseless increases the risk to many disorders including malnutrition, poor wound healing, sleep deprivation, poor diabetes management and its attendant cardiovascular problems, hypothermia and PTSD. To prevent these and many other disorders multiple treatments may be required but the first and foremost is a prescription for housing. Other resources may be needed depending on the individual, but all require housing as a primary resource to add the stability necessary for any other improvements.

    It is sadly ironic that some of those most vulnerable in our society will have what little they have taken away around Martin Luther King Jr. day. At the end of his life MLK was involved in the Poor People’s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. The city says they are just asking those at Whoville to move, but many of those involved say there are far fewer spaces than are needed. It is inhumane to make people move who have no good alternative. As a nursing student we are taught that “Homeless patients have even fewer resources than the poor. They are often jobless and do not have the advantage of shelter and must continually cope with finding a place to sleep at night and finding food. Chronic health problems tend to worsen because of poor nutrition and the inability to store nutritional foods. In addition, the homeless population is usually walking the streets and neighborhoods to seek shelter, and they lack a balance of rest and activity. There is a startling increase in adolescent homelessness. The homeless adolescent is usually without a nuclear family and has greater health care risks. Homelessness is a major public health issue. The fastest growing section of the homeless population is families with children. This includes complete nuclear families and single-parent families. It is expected that 3.5 million people are homeless and 1.35 million are families with children. Poverty, mental and physical illness, and lack of affordable housing are primary causes of homelessness (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2010). Homelessness severely affects the functioning, health, and well-being of the family and its members. Children of homeless families are often in fair or poor health and have higher rates of asthma, ear infections, stomach problems, and mental illness.” Until there is a better situation these houseless citizens should be allow to stay on public land. I note that the old City Hall is empty. Use that to provide shelter from the cold. It is painful to consider but it is absolutely true that you could end up houseless in this society. There, but for the grace of god go us all. I know because I was houseless for years. Now I own a house, a business and am in my last year of the of the RN nursing program. You do not know the suffering these people have been through, why they are where they are and you certainly do not know what they need if you think you can just close Whoville with no serious implications. Rather than closing Whoville we should be supporting that community while we find empty buildings to use, like the old City Hall, and others. Long term we need to provide the resources to get people in a stable situation. Many of these people have untreated PTSD from war, domestic abuse, childhood abuse or being houseless too long. I know. I’ve been there. There is a new direction called Housing First which helps houseless people get housing immediately while providing resources these citizens need so they can stabilize their lives. The Utah version with web links, I listed above. I encourage you all to consider they long term value to treating everyone as the family they really are. Peace.

  4. Karen Elder says

    My first night relocating to Eugene was spent with the Whoville residents in October. I was warmly welcomed as a stranger needing a place to stay in a tent for the night until I could get my belongings into storage or a place to rent. I was offered food, water, use of a porta-potty, blankets and safety. I was very impressed with the community’s cohesion and cooperation. I left one of my smaller tents as a donation for their generosity.
    Please continue to support the health and well being of those homeless whether in transition or not.
    thank you
    KE

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