stock_Bend High School

“It absolutely floors me that the Bend City Council is moving to put a homeless camp directly adjacent to an elementary school playground and Bend Senior High School,” said Matt Craven, the head football coach at the school.

Dozens of former and current Bend High School coaches have joined a growing chorus of residents who oppose a city proposal to establish a managed homeless camp off Ninth Street.

In a letter addressed to the Bend City Council and the Bend-La Pine School Board, the coaches expressed their concerns about the safety of students if a managed homeless camp were to be placed near Bend High and Bear Creek Elementary. The area where the camp is proposed is a corridor where children commute to and from school, and where athletes walk to get from the school to fields on 15th Street, according to the letter, which was released Friday.

“We support the Council’s goal for accessible and effective city government,” the letter states. “However, we believe the current decision to offer RV and tent camping in between the school campuses creates homeless opportunities at the expense of student safety.”

‘Deeply troubling’

The property is one of two places the city is considering to place a managed homeless camp, which would host 15 to 25 people and be professionally managed by an organization familiar with homelessness.

Managed camps have grown in popularity in cities across the country as a way to help mitigate the consequences of homeless camps that pop up organically and as a better way to help homeless people by providing a stable living situation.

Roughly a week after the city’s announcement about the proposal at this property, dozens of residents, including the coaches, emailed the City Council asking the city to reconsider the location out of safety concerns, according to records obtained Friday afternoon by The Bulletin.

But the city and homeless service providers say many of the concerns people have about the camp can be mitigated by how it is managed.

Matt Craven, the head football coach at Bend High School, called the plan “deeply troubling.”

“It absolutely floors me that the Bend City Council is moving to put a homeless camp directly adjacent to an elementary school playground and Bend Senior High School,” he said.

Craven said he has heard from concerned parents, students, nearby property owners and business owners. He believes there will also be more pushback from educators, as teachers return to campus for the new school year.

“We believe this is a huge safety issue, and we would like the backing of the school district on this,” he said.

Craven and Lowell Norby, the high school’s athletic director, said there are laws against pornographic stores, marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores being within a certain proximity to schools and argue there should be similar rules for homeless camps.

“It’s disturbing to me that they chose that location,” Norby said.

City Councilor Barb Campbell said she understands people’s concerns, and that they are being considered in the decision to move forward with this property or not.

But Campbell said this camp would not be like the ones people have seen in town before, and that there are lots of ways to put parameters in place to address concerns. The camp would be monitored by a homeless service provider, and the city could put stipulations on who would be admitted into the camp.

Campbell said she personally imagines the camp in this area would be high-barrier, meaning people would have to be clean and sober to live there, and follow other community guidelines to be allowed to stay.

“We don’t have to open the door and say first come first serve,” she said.

Campbell said she is also sensitive to criticism the council has received about the proposal being in east Bend versus west Bend. She said the choice came down to the fact the city owns a lot more land on the east side of town, not because of a bias for the west part of the town.

“With this particular council, if we had property across the street from Summit High School, we’d be considering that property as well,” she said.

Colleen Thomas, the homeless services coordinator for Deschutes County, also said she understands people’s concerns, which is why it is in everyone’s best interest that this project is managed well.

“We have never had a managed camp in Central Oregon, and with that being said, I think there are some questions about how that is going to look,” she said.

Thomas said it is important to consider the safety of the people who would live in the camp, which has largely been left out of the conversation.

“It’s not just a free for all.There are going to be guidelines for individuals, so the community remains safe itself,” she said.

A call to Bend-La Pine Schools was not immediately returned Friday.

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(8) comments

mike1781

Homelessness is a huge problem and these people need help. But locating a homeless camp in between two schools seems like a really bad idea.

TRANSFORM

simple question for any and all city/county officials.

does the city/county have a plan to maximize resource utilization as it applies to helping to mitigate the homeless issue confronting and confounding the city at present? it seems to me as a previous management consultant to large public entities that this would be a first step, as in, thoroughly define the issue before allocating resources. i know that various city staff in combination with a number of relevant agencies are working diligently as they can, albeit, not in concert or as a team, to do something effective, but what i haven’t seen is an approach taken in a myriad of situations, both business and social endeavors, that identify and/or triage the environment within which resources need to be applied. more simply stated, does anyone know for certain the numbers of actual homeless people/families (many say 1000 on any given day in Central Oregon), and within that broad population, how many are in a variety of sub-groups, i.e., people who have recently lost their job/s and cannot afford rent; people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol; people who served their country and are now in need of support services, whether mental, physical, or both; people who are nomadic by design and have chosen that way of life; people who are transient and have no desire to be a contributing member of our community. if there has been such a survey, i cannot find it anywhere.

implementing a comprehensive survey of this of this nature is a necessary first step. i know several organizations have visited camps on a one off and or on a continuing basis, so gathering numbers of folks in each of the aforementioned categories shouldn’t be too difficult. once have done that, a concerted, coordinated, 1 leader at the helm, team or organization can then develop strategic and tactical plans utilizing the myriad of resources that currently exist or developing resources that don’t to address the broad issue as well as its underlying components/cagtegories. not knowing the environment within which the issues exist will lead to broad based expenditures without knowledge of or accountability for their effectiveness in mitigating the issues. often this leads to not only wasting limited monetary resources but human resources as well, in terms of time, effort, and disappointment with results.

after completion of such a survey, there should be targeted approaches to each component of the overall issue. i would like to suggest several such approaches as i see them based on my limited view of the component sub-groups as previously mentioned.

SG #1. people/families that have recently lost their source of employment regardless of reason who cannot afford rent of any type and who are now without shelter (living in a temporary campsite or a parked vehicle) but want to re-enter the workforce and get back on their feet so to speak, and be part of the Bend community. it should go without saying that first and foremost this subgroup needs sustainable employment that pays a living wage such that, in combination with other available social services, this person/family can pay rent and associated utilities and expenses. the city is in a position to provide this if it would make this a priority in it’s desire to effectively address the issue at hand. the city can tear down all bureaucratic barriers to providing jobs to this sub-group. there is much that the city needs that can be provided by people in this subgroup. all city owned facilities and property so matter the size or scope need attention; cleaning, painting, landscaping, repairing, rebuilding, non-skilled labor, skilled labor, administrative services, the list is only limited by, well nothing. yes, barriers exist…tear them down! do not continue to expend resources, whether city/county/state/federal that do not enable people in this subgroup to get out of this sub-group if they so desire, and my contention is, they do desire! for the folks in this category that are currently employed but not earning enough for rent, then the city should use some of the potential 8 million dollars to provide rent subsidies.

SG#2. people that are addicted to alcohol or dugs. these folks don’t need to be living in camps, managed or unmanaged. they need to be living in a substance abuse center/rehab center. get ‘em in there!!!! off the streets, out of the camps!!!! don’t have enough yet pending the states rehab building initiatives that recently passed…..get ‘em to locations in other states that have vacancies, but enabling, keeping them in places without oversight/support is in itself inhumane. tear down whatever barriers there are to getting these folks the help they need.

SG#3. VETS. thank goodness for them and for COVA. as a VET myself, i’ve had to reach out after my discharge several new moons ago for help, got it, and began getting on track as a contributing member of society. i see the VETS Village coming together, that’s great! i do know that not all VETS have the same issues, some abuse issues, some PTSD issues, (see suggested tactics above) some just leave me alone issues; it’s complicated for sure. all the VETS orgs need to step in more than they have to help our warriors, but first find out what the individual needs are.

SG#4. people who are nomadic by design and intent. they made a movie about Nomads….called Nomadland….all relevant organizations should watch it….very educational. shall there be a Nomadland site in Bend? perhaps, but this is not the type of camps we see in China Hat or Juniper Ridge or up and down 97 from here to Redmond….this would be a place, with restrictions, that is not necessarily “managed” as is the new vogue here, but officially policed for sure to ensure the safety of all who choose to be here “temporarily”.

included in this group are transients….this is a toughie. are these folks runaways? perhaps. are they freeloaders? perhaps. are they outcasts from other places? perhaps. a list of who they are could be endless. but assuming these are not SG#1/2/3 folks, and that they are hangin’ in Bend because, hey why not!….it’s not as crowded as Portland or Seattle or San Fran or LA….you name it, and a river runs through it and we can panhandle and we can be porch pirates and we can park on Hunnel for nothing and we don’t need or want to work. well, i hate to sound cruel, but these folks need to be escorted somewhere else, asap! if they don’t want to be contributing members of Bend and are otherwise ready willing and able to be that but just don’t, well adios! i have no idea HOW that would be accomplished, but it needs to happen. not just for the good of the city but for the good of folks who are in the 3 groups mentioned above…..THEY need the help!!!!

NotaRobot

I would propose we buy them one way bus tickets back to SF, Seattle, or Portland and have the city council be the bus chaperones. Interesting how the city council is so concerned s out the homeless but none of them are recommending that they set up camp in their personal neighborhoods.

BuckeyeDuck

Ahhh, the concerned, caring comment of a trumpdillian.

BuckeyeDuck

Setting up a managed site for the homeless is all well and good, but for this site's location to be the first of it's kind in Bend no matter the experience elsewhere wouldn't be recommended. Even if it's location based on proximity to services such as stores, transit, etc looks good, being between two schools should have been a non starter.

Richard/s

To the voters of Bend: You voted the city council in, you can recall/vote them out. This is what you get with a liberal council. Soon Bend will look like a little cousin of Portland. You get what you vote for.

Gary Mendoza

Bend’s City Council is looking for ways to better serve the homeless. Better serving the interests of Bend neighborhoods and families is a much less important concern.

CommonSenseIsntSoCommon

No… the counselors need to listen to these concerns. Encampments bring bigger issues no matter how managed. There’s are studies on this that probably have not been considered. Again the counselors need to listen or yes it will be a short run for them.

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