Lebanon to host homelessness expert in summit

Lebanon City Manager Gary Marks didn’t read his seven-page monthly report to the City Council on Oct. 12, but he did emphasize one component: The Summit on Homelessness.
The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Boulder Falls Event Center, 505 Mullins Dr.
“It is a free event,” Marks said. “I’ve heard from some folks who say, ‘I don’t know if I want to come because I don’t want to get signed up for something.’ I wanted them to know that there’s not a clipboard that’s going to be passed around.”
Robert G. Marbut Jr., Ph.D., a nationally-recognized consultant on homelessness, will speak at the summit.
The purpose of the event is to learn about the homeless situation in Lebanon and also about effective ways to make a difference.
“Through our vision process, we heard a number of times that people in our community wanted us to address the homelessness issue,” Marks said, referring to the 2040 Vision process developed by Council and community members last year.
The homeless population seems to have grown, he said. The situation is not unique to Lebanon, but the discussion will be Lebanon-specific.
“Dr. Marbut likes to talk about the fact that every community’s homeless issue is like a fingerprint,” Marks said. “It’s unique and it requires a unique approach or strategy to successfully address it.”
The 2040 Vision called for working with all the existing social services agencies and churches involved in the homeless issue “to try to coalesce together those efforts to coordinate them so we can eliminate duplication of services and also identify, in some cases, services that aren’t really helping resolve the issue but could actually be enabling it,” Marks said.
Marbut’s philosophy is that we need to take actions that help a transition occur in the lives of the individuals who are homeless, he said.
That involves identifying existing resources to help with mental health or substance abuse issues, and the other challenges people who are homeless may be facing.
For this initiative, homeless is defined as someone living on the street, Marks said.
Marbut was in Lebanon from Sept. 1 – Sept. 5, he said.
“He spent each of those evenings out finding individuals who are homeless, finding their encampments and spending time with them getting to know who they are, what their issues are, what their past is so that he could begin to build a profile for all of us,” Marks said.
He also met with representatives of various agencies and churches.
Marbut will present his assessment at the Summit for Homelessness and recommend strategies.
“I’m excited about it,” Marks said. “I don’t know of any other community in the state of Oregon that is leading in this issue as we are. I know that a lot of our peers in communities around us are looking at what we’re doing.”

Audrey Caro Gomez
Lebanon Local