Dear Editor,

I’m a resident in the neighborhood adjacent to the proposed site of the homeless shelter on Church of the Nazarene property in Cottage Grove. My hope is that the city’s motivation in looking at this property would be to help vetted Cottage Grove homeless individuals and families who need and want help to elevate them out of their current homeless situation. A shelter must be safe for the sheltered as well as nearby residents. Consequently, a responsible shelter would require employment of TRAINED security, medical, counseling, and maintenance staff. Is Cottage Grove prepared and able to pay these ongoing costs? My fear is that the city’s motivation for the Nazarene property is to establish an out-of-view camping site to “ dump” the homeless population … hoping that they will access assistance at Community Sharing and nearby mental health facilities. You cannot lump all homeless people together. It is not safe! For every individual, there are multiple issues contributing to their homeless state that need resolving. A low-barrier site (no restrictions) that is proposed in Cottage Grove will draw folks from far and wide who choose that lifestyle…not a good idea for our community. A low-barrier site would attract folks that object to “regulations” on their lifestyle. A low-barrier site will attract those that prey on the most vulnerable in a mixed homeless population…frightening possibilities that may carry over to our neighborhood children and teens … not good for any residential neighborhood. I’m old, but I see wonderful young families in my neighborhood with children safely playing up and down the street. That would be GONE with a low-barrier homeless camp nearby. Another factor to consider is fi re. Unmonitored homeless camps have been the source of campfires that have escaped causing enormous damage and loss of life. When the Nazarene property dries up, it is adjoining a lush riparian creek and river avenue that could burn not only our neighborhood but much of the city. If the city must provide a low-barrier homeless camp, put it in a visible area considering who will be drawn there. VISIBILITY does at least provide some security. The Nazarene property would be out of sight and I fear “out of mind” for everyone but my neighbors. No city should locate a low-barrier homeless camp in a residential neighborhood. If you are concerned, contact the Cottage Grove city councilors, mayor, and city manager.

Christine Johnson

Cottage Grove