As we approach the end of the year, I wanted to pause, share my gratitude for the incredibly important and difficult work you do in our community, and make sure you feel up-to-date on the
Chamber’s effort to address the homelessness crisis here in Eugene.
One year ago, we had a huge influx of business leaders contacting the Chamber with a new level of urgency around the impact of the unhoused on their business. The issue seemed to have reached a crisis level and our Board agreed this should be our top priority.
We knew if we wanted to be helpful, we were going to need to do our homework and become as informed as possible on this complex issue. So I came to all of you—over 150 stakeholders—and gathered your feedback, expertise and advice to put together The State of Our Homelessness Crisis report, released by our chamber in September. Your input was extremely valuable, and I hope you heard your voice represented in the report. We are excited to see that this report has helped galvanize a new level of interest and engagement amongst our business community and public. The past few months, we have been working on the key next steps from the report. To try and keep you all updated, here is a recap of our progress and next steps:
1. Business Leaders Task Force (BLTF).
We launched this group, targeted at specifically bringing private sector business leaders together to help bring them up to speed and gather their input on how businesses may positively support this issue. We have had 2 meetings, and surveyed them about priorities. The effort is early, but we are inspired by the number of business leaders who want to be a part of the solution (nearly 100 on the roster). The first subcommittees we are launching are focused on data (see next bullet) and communications (to prepare for a public campaign in Q2—to bring transparency, opportunity for engagement, and hope around this issue).
2. Cost Study.
Looking at the data we have access to (including the vastly improved Lane County data around individuals experiencing homelessness) and the missing data that would help us determine next steps, we have been in exploratory conversations about a cost study/analysis. We are not aiming to have another big lengthy report. We are targeting missing pieces to help us more strategically move forward, such as: how much money is being invested on this issue, where those funds are being spent, what is having impact, what gaps we have in services and funding and how (current and new) funds could be deployed moving forward. We would like this to be a resource for the entire community and a tool to again provide transparency and build confidence in our ability to reduce homelessness in Lane County.
3. Collective, Cross-Sector Conversation
We heard loud and clear from partners and community members that there is a desire to have a cross-sector conversation to agree on shared goals and align around strategic actions to end homelessness—to have one community plan vs. the many plans/initiatives that we currently have. This effort is underway, but as you can imagine it is difficult to narrow all of the experts that should be at the table. We have continued to have critical meetings with service providers and public partners over the past few months. With the support of key leaders at the City and County as well as many service providers, we are in the midst of meeting with the business leaders (next mtg. Jan. 5), social sector (Jan. 6 + additional meetings), neighborhood associations (being scheduled), faith community (being scheduled), individuals with lived experience (being scheduled), philanthropy (in progress), government (multiple complete) to ask these groups to choose representatives to join a cross-sector conversation at the end of January.
Thank you again for your input this past year, contributing to collective momentum that I’m confident will lead to progress in the coming year. I am so incredibly grateful for each and every one of you. We are so lucky to have your leadership and passion in this community.