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.
“There’s a lot of good things happening here,” George A. says as he surveys a recent morning’s activity inside the City of Eugene’s Safe Sleep site at 410 Garfield St., operated by St. Vincent de Paul.
“It runs pretty smooth here, it’s pretty quiet, and most of the people are respectful. The staff treats me pretty well, even though I give them all a bad time,” he says with a sly grin and an infectious chuckle.
George, aka “Pops,” is a familiar face to many in the local unhoused community and was a fixture at the Washington Jefferson Park encampment for most of the past year. Now going on 66 years old, he has considerably more life experience than many of his former camp neighbors.
“I’m too old to be out there playing games. I don’t have the sense of humor for it anymore,” he admits. “But I have to try to laugh at things. If I didn’t, I don’t know what would happen.”
George appreciated his improved living conditions from the start. He and many others moved to the Safe Sleep site just as a late-February cold snap descended on Eugene.
“This is a good facility. It beats the hell out of being out there in the mud and the rain, that’s for sure!”
He allows that some of his fellow Safe Sleep site guests have had challenges adjusting to a more structured life with basic behavioral rules and a nightly curfew.
“No problem with me because I’m old and I don’t stay up that late anyway,” Pops says, again with his good-natured laugh. “You’re going to have a few problems here and there no matter what you do, no matter who’s running it, that’s just the way it is.
“But this is a good deal for a lot of people.”