Roseburg City Council voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to pass an ordinance regulating when, where and how unhoused people can camp on city property.
The ordinance, which goes into effect on July 1, regulates camping on city property, allowing homeless individuals to sleep and rest on city property provided they follow time, place and manner regulations.
Unhoused individuals may only camp on city property from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. from April 1 to Sep. 30; from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. March to October; and from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. November to February. Camps are limited to 10-by-10 feet and all property must be contained inside of a tent or tent like structure. Individuals also cannot accumulate garbage, burn open flames or dump wastewater.
The ordinance prohibits camping on public property not owned by the city, in residential areas, Stewart Park, the downtown parking structure, city properties leased to others and numerous other locations across Roseburg. Camping on private property for longer than 48 hours is also prohibited.
A number of individuals spoke during the public comment period before the ordinance was adopted. Most said that the proposed regulations would not solve all of the problems associated with homelessness in the area, but city officials reassured that the ordinance was just a first step in a long process to work toward solving the issue.
“Nobody in here tonight said anything about accountability,” said one individual at the meeting. “I know that some of them probably don’t deserve to be there, I know there are people out there by choice. There are people out there with mental problems, drug problems and people that just don’t want to work. So maybe moving people around isn’t a good idea, but I don’t think it’s fair to me to walk over the top of people to get to my place of employment.”
“To sit there and say it’s accountability, that everybody is responsible and accountable for themselves is wrong, because some people just don’t get a choice,” said Bill Romo. “The city needs to step up and realize that this problem isn’t going away. We’re going to have to address it and give these people a step up.”
City Councilor Ruth Smith, who volunteered at the warming and cooling centers at the Roseburg Senior Center, reacted with emotion following the public comments, saying that the city is working to do more for the unhoused population in Roseburg.
“While I was at the senior center, I did see the little old ladies getting evicted,” Smith said. “Watching a 70- or 80-year-old woman being tossed out is heartbreaking. There’s no getting around it. But we have been working, and we have made a difference in the community. And none of us here are heartless.”
Many residents speaking at the city council meeting wanted the council to create a designated, permanent place for unhoused people to sleep, similar to the Hastings Village in Sutherlin. City officials said that’s not as simple as it sounds, however. Mayor Larry Rich previously said the insurance for such a site — more than one of which would likely be needed for a city the size of Roseburg — would run at a cost of approximately $40,000 per tent, per year.
The city was required to update their municipal codes surrounding public camping after the Oregon Legislature, along with federal court rulings, required city laws regarding public camping to be “objectively reasonable” and codified how cities must provide notice and store property when removing established campsites.
Self-motivated. Go-getters. Contagious energy.
These are some of the ways that employees at CHI Mercy Medical Center described the five graduates from Roseburg High School’s year-long nurse assistant program, as they were honored Tuesday at a pinning ceremony to celebrate their completion.
As part of the nursing assistant program, offered in partnership with Umpqua Community College, the five graduates — Sorrell Carter, Amia Juarez, Kella Johnson, Addison Scalf and Kasmara Boehnen — worked 80 hours in a real-world environment at Mercy Medical, giving them valuable experience as they continue on their paths to become nurses and doctors.
“I think it’s incumbent on educators to make sure that you’re providing a pathway for kids they can see and they’re excited about,” Roseburg Public School Superintendent Jared Cordon said. “The more excited the kids are about learning, the more choice they have, the better they do. ... What we’re trying to do is integrate with industry partners and the community college, so when kids come through it, it’s like, ‘I see where I can go.’”
Carter, a senior, wants to be a registered nurse because the person who inspires her most — her mother — works as a nurse as well. Johnson and Juarez want to go on to be nurses as well. Boehnen does too, but wants to focus on specifically helping victims of domestic violence. Scalf, the only junior to graduate from the program this year, wants to go on to be a pediatrician.
School officials, educators and students agreed that the partnership between the school, local hospital and community college was vital to the learning opportunities available to them.
“It’s [the partnership] everything,” said Jan Dawson, who teaches the nursing assistant program. “Mercy have been so incredibly supportive and wonderful with us. To have the college, high school and hospital all working together, it’s just a dream come true.”
“It’s a network sometimes people take for granted,” said Howard Johnson, board chair of Roseburg Public Schools. “We have to be a complement to each other, we have to encourage each other, and not worry about who gets the credit for it, as long as it gets done. ... We have to have good buildings, we have to have teachers, we have to have good community support. This can’t be done alone.”
Dawson, a nurse with 43 years of experience, is beloved by the students who learned from her.
“Watching them bond with each other and coming together as a group,” Dawson said when asked what her favorite part of teaching is. “Watching them learn, watching them grow. They’re like little rosebuds, and throughout the year I get to watch the rose bloom open and blossom. They’re just incredible, the growth is incredible.”
Adapt Integrated Health Care, Line for Life, Oregon Family Support Network and Douglas County Education Service District held a community listening event Tuesday evening at the Roseburg Public Library with the goal of helping individuals and families navigate grief and loss.
The event featured a keynote presentation from Oregon Family Support Regional Director Lisa Butler focused on understanding the signs and symptoms of suicide, how to effectively communicate with family or friends about suicide and how to provide support to those who may be suffering.
“Oregon Family Support Network supports families who are raising kids with mental health and behavioral health challenges,” said Butler. “I’m a parent with four kids and one of my kids had a serious suicide attempt. This work with other families is super important just helping families ask the questions and get comfortable with using the word suicide and seeing possible signs.”
The presentation focused on many things including the risk factors for someone contemplating suicide, the warning signs involved and the many misconceptions surrounding the rhetoric involved with those suffering from suicidal thoughts.
One major takeaway from Butler’s presentation was that openly speaking about suicide can remove a stigma which can help those suffering from suicidal thoughts or behavior.
Other topics included how to spot warning signs, the risk factors and how to develop what are called “protective factors” such as resiliency, social connection, knowledge and support.
Adapt Integrated Health Care offered medication lock boxes, gun cases to safely store a pistol or rifle and various forms of information for their mental health service. Adapt Integrated Health Care provides for various health care needs including mental health care and substance abuse treatment, recovery resources and primary care in Douglas County.