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This Retirement Community Offers A Haven for the Homeless

A unique partnership created a practical alternative for those in need of housing.

A view of the Conestoga huts.

Content provided by Good Samaritan Society.

Tracy Joscelyn and Red Showers,
onsite managers, stand outside
their hut. As products of the program,
they now help manage the site.

A few small huts are changing lives in a big way at Good Samaritan Society – Eugene Village. These shelters — called Conestoga Huts — are a part of a city-authorized program designed to offer respite to the homeless population of Eugene, Oregon.

City officials approached the administration of Eugene Village with an idea to use part of the parking lot for a homeless camp. Officials from the city, Lane County and Eugene Village agreed it would be an ideal spot for the camp. Eugene, and Lane County in general, has a homeless crisis. The homeless occasionally spill over into neighborhoods, causing issues.

But a dedicated area of shelter with regulations helps alleviate problems between the homeless and homeowners. Thanks to the city’s lenient overnight sleeping ordinance for parking lots, Eugene has been able to place homeless camps in unexpected locations. In this case, the huts will legally sit on the northeast corner of the Good Samaritan Society parking lot.  

Although the code is lenient, there are strict rules designed to keep order at the camp. The rules include: no drugs or alcohol, quiet time, and specified hours to be on and off site. Each resident also must have a plan in place for progressing toward permanent housing.  

This is a no-brainer for us as it fits our mission of providing shelter and supportive services to older persons and others in need.” – Steve Chadick, administrator of Eugene Village

Each hut features a bed, insulation, a small closet and a lockable door. As required by city code, the site has a fence surrounding the designated area, along with portable toilets and trash service. To date, the endeavor has been a success. Eugene Village received a Good Samaritan Society Social Accountability Grant in the amount of $1,670 to build another hut. Employees are donating to the effort, as well. 

“Since the inception of the current Conestoga homes, we have had absolutely no issues with the inhabitants at all,” Steve says. “In fact, the impact is so minimal, it’s almost as if they are not even there. We are 100 percent in favor of increasing the number of homes on the parking lot.” 

Currently there are seven homes on the property. Plans are being made between the city and Eugene Village to expand the camp, which was renamed Samaritan Village Homeless Camp.

The program is a partnership between the Good Samaritan Society, Nightingale Health Sanctuary and Community Supported Shelters

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