Springfield City Council unanimously allows more campers at churches, businesses

      Update: The City Council voted unanimously to allow 3 campers at churches and businesses, up from 1.

      SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The City Council votes Monday night on whether to increase the number of campers allowed on church or industrial properties in the city.

      The current arrangement allows for 1 camper. The proposal would increase the limit to 3.

      Keith Heath manages the overnight camper program for St. Vincent de Paul. Where allowed by law, the program matches people living in a vehicle with a church or industrial property where they can sleep.

      "They're unofficially security, if you will," Heath said. "They're grateful you'll give them an opportunity to stay, and that will in turn help keep other people away, and then theft goes down and you essentially have someone watching your property for free and in turn you're giving them a safe place to park, so it's a good marriage."

      The campers are screened by St. Vincent de Paul.

      "There's a lot of people who have fallen on hard times," Heath said. "They lost their housing, lost their jobs, just misfortune in just everyday lives, so programs like this give them an opportunity without being harassed by police."

      A City of Springfield spokesman said local officials are open to expanding the program.

      "What if you have kids and have to park on the side of the road, parking lots - it's not really safe," said Niel Laudati with the City of Springfield. ""This gives them a safer option, and so we thought it's working so well with one, the people that originally proposed it to the city, Shelter Rights Alliance, said lets look at 3."