There’s a sort of crisis in the Jefferson Westside neighborhood. One or more vagrants cause trouble at the businesses in the neighborhood and the businesses don’t really have anywhere to turn.
“We’ve complained to our land lord. They leave tons of trash,” said Claudia Cooper, one of the employees of Sweet Skins Eco Boutique. “I mean, there’s a dumpster right […] there! And sometimes they even pull our trash out of the dumpster and rip open the bags, so we’ve got their trash and our trash all piled up with their trash too.”
Almost every business in the Jefferson Westside neighborhood has had an experience like Sweet Skins Bouique. A group of vagrants causes some trouble or harasses customers and the business has almost no way to respond to it.
“Oh yeah, we’ve had definite problems [with vagrants],” said Ben Schaaff, an employee at the Lawrence Street Market. “But they make up a big part of our business. They mostly buy beer and cigarettes. They buy 24oz-ers, those are the cheapest.”
Schaaf gestures to a cooler taking up the right wall of the store. “We’ve called CAHOOTS [a service which picks up and takes care of intoxicated persons in the Eugene area] a few times for people passing out on the sidewalk, but nothing major.”
Most of the businesses in the area seem to have had at least one run-in with. Although all were not as kind or forgiving as Schaaf, none appears to have a solution to this problem.
According to Julia Holtzman of Sweet Life Bakery, the Jefferson Westside neighborhood is prime real estate. Holtzman thinks this is due to the proximity to the railroad tracks which run though Eugene and the rather large part in the neighborhood. All these factors together make it pretty clear why there seems to be such a vagrant epidemic in the area.
“We’ve got two [vagrants] living in our back yard,” said Cooper. “They leave tons of trash, and we run them off, but they just come back.”
Cooper and the Sweet Skins Eco Boutique staff also wants their problems with the homeless to end, but says they realize the homeless probably don’t have anywhere else to go.
“We don’t normally call CAHOOTS,” said Cooper, “and I’ve got no problem telling someone to scat.”
Even among the businesses in Jefferson Westside, it seems the best anyone can do is to call the CAHOOTS van. Almost no business is gung-ho about getting the police involved in any disturbances, which makes CAHOOTS an excellent for them. Sadly, CAHOOTS is kind of a stop-gap measure. CAHOOTS can help people for a night, but they don’t aim to produce a lasting solution. Unless someone does something, the situation in the Jefferson Westside neighborhood will remain exactly the same.