Note: Several guests at the City of Eugene’s 410 Garfield Safe Sleep site recently sat down with St. Vincent de Paul staff to reflect briefly on their experiences, hopes — and struggles — now that they’ve landed in a more stable place on their journey through homelessness. Here’s one of their stories.
“It’s been excellent,” Elvis H. replies simply when asked about his adjustment to life at the City of Eugene’s 410 Garfield Safe Sleep site, managed by St. Vincent de Paul.
Now unhoused for nearly a decade, Elvis had lived in tents at Washington Jefferson Park for a year and a half when the Safe Sleep site presented him with an attractive new option.
For him, having his own large heated tent within a covered warehouse was obviously preferable to “the rain pouring down on your tent, the wind taking it this way and that way, and always trying to fight it.”
Beyond the physical advantages of remaining warm and dry and having more room, he says the new site offers a far greater sense of stability and calm — and gives him a place where he can sleep without persistent worry about his belongings and his safety.
Elvis’ younger brother, Billy, also has experienced years of homelessness and recently lost his longtime girlfriend. Billy now lives in a tent next to Elvis’ at 410 Garfield, and Elvis says his priority is to be “right beside him, trying to balance him out and making sure that he’s set.”
After their years spent unhoused, the brothers naturally have many struggles to overcome before achieving long-term stability. But Elvis, who has started a weekend cleaning job, sees his move to 410 Garfield as “a great step up.”
“I really appreciate it here,” he says, adding that SVdP’s site staff have made him feel welcomed and valued. “Everybody’s always positive, fair and balanced … people actually say ‘Hi,’ and there’s always a smile.”