Unhoused man dies of exposure sheltering at bus stop

By Eric Howanietz January 10, 2022

By Eric Howanietz

January 10, 2022

For three days an elderly man sheltered at the intersection of Hwy 99 and Royal Ave. With the first bitter cold snap of the year on Nov 17th, he passed away. The bus stops there four times a day, yet none called for help or rendered aid.

In response, on Friday Nov 19th, Black Thistle Street Aid assembled a vigil for the elderly man whose identity at the time of this printing is unknown.

About 25 people attended the somber event and shared their growing frustration with Eugene’s policies and actions towards the houseless community.

“This follows a pattern we have seen with escalated sweeps,” said one street aid volunteer.

Another commented on how easy it was for people to fall through the cracks when they are dispersed by ongoing sweeps by the police.

Unfortunately, the city’s plan to mass 80 tents in the unheated Tyree Oil warehouse on Garfield Street has stoked paranoia about concentration camp like conditions in the unhoused community. The ill thought scheme is little more than a rubber stamp to move forward with large scale sweeps which will only move unhoused folks further from essential services and community support.

Black Thistle Street Aid (BTSA) runs pop up clinics and does outreach for the unhoused. BTSA says they have lost seven of their patients this year. The unhoused man most likely died of exposure and the vigil hoped to remind the community of the increasingly harsh conditions unhoused folks will be facing this winter. Please take notice and have the courage to help those in need. Housing is a deadly issue in our community and must be addressed as both an immediate emergency and a long-term crisis.

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