The Eugene Police department began to remove homeless residents from the Whoville camp on April 4.
Before its break, the Eugene City Council voted to vacate the city-owned lot, on the corner of Broadway Avenue and Hilyard Street, between April 1 and April 15. The city is carrying out a plan proposed to them by Eugene City Manager John Ruiz.
Police closed one lane of westbound traffic along Broadway Avenue, cordoned Whoville, and oversaw the former residents as they packed their belongings and cleaned the area.
“It’s a travesty — that’s what’s happening,” resident Megan Ludwig said on March 31. “They want to say we have a place to say, but they also want to push us out.”
It’s estimated that as many as 50 people call Whoville home. According to ASLCC Sustainability Coordinator Michael Weed, some of these residents have been Lane students. The Torch was unable to contact any student residents.
Another resident, Karrie Lucinda-Miller, said she’s been better off in Whoville than she was when she was living nomadically on the streets of the West University neighborhood near downtown Eugene.
‘(The police) know I’ve got a safe place to lay down,” Lucinda-Miller said. “I’m 56 years old. I’m tired of sleeping on a vacant porch. (The police) love me here because I’m safe and secure and I’ll get my rest.”
According to eugene-or.gov, Eugene Police were called to Whoville seven times during March. There, police conducted patrol checks and responded to disorderly conduct or “dog(s) at large.”
Lucinda-Miller said many current residents of Whoville don’t know where to go next.
“We’ll find somewhere,” Lucinda-Miller said.
City of Eugene Public Relations Director Jan Bohman said the city plans to open a third “rest area” that could house 15 people.
Greg Wright said he became a Whoville resident to escape fighting with his girlfriend, and added that he shared the optimism felt by some of his homeless neighbors.
“I don’t care,” Wright said on March 31. “I’ve been homeless for a minute. We’re going to find another spot.”
Wright said the people of Whoville won’t have any trouble navigating to their new spot.
“You just spin around 20 times in a circle with your eyes closed and whatever direction you open your eyes to, go that way,” Wright said. “That’s just the kind of freedom we have.”