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This photo essay explores the problem of homelessness in Eugene. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development Assessment Report (2008) states that Oregon has the highest proportion of homeless people in the United States. The problem of homelessness in Oregon has only become more acute since the financial crisis. In 2010, the Oregon Housing and Community Services found that on a given night there were 19,207 homeless people, up from 17,122 people in 2009. According to the statistics, more than half of these people are in the greater Eugene area. There are many programs that help to address the problem, but the need far outweighs the available resources.
Today, it’s illegal in Eugene for people to sleep on public land, however for over a year many members of the homeless community have been living in makeshift camps around the city. Homeless advocates have been lobbying the City Council for more than a year to provide a legal place for homeless people to sleep. In October 2013 the Council approved the first two homeless camps for the Trainsong neighborhood. There is also the Opportunity Village project, which provides transitional housing for homeless individuals and families as well as multiple illegal encampments around town.