The city of Bend can’t solve homelessness. It does need to make progress. What it is trying to do now is create managed camps where people can live in privacy and safety with some basic services.
The city has identified three possible locations for temporary, managed camps in Bend. They aren’t finalized. They are getting closer. Bend city councilors will likely be briefed on the progress this week.
One location is a roughly 1.5 acre property owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation in southwest Bend. City staff declined to give us the exact location, wanting negotiations with ODOT to move further along. A second location is the city’s Alden/Greenwood property near the First Presbyterian Church on NE Ninth Street. And the third is Juniper Ridge.
“My goal is to have at least one operating” by the time the snow falls, Carolyn Eagan, Bend’s recovery strategy and impact officer told us. She would like to have more.
She has been looking for locations that have access to water and are accessible by road. The city’s idea is that zero of these would be homeless camps forever. They would be a right now solution for the right now problem of finding better places for people to stay. These locations would eventually be developed into permanent housing. The plan is other locations would be developed into more permanent camps. That will take longer.
These temporary camps would have running water.
They would be places for people to put up tents or other structures, park an RV or a car.
Showers, toilets and other facilities would be temporary not permanent structures. On a 1.5 acre property there might be 15 camp sites. It depends on the property. The city will partner with nonprofits to run the camps. It has a list of about a dozen nonprofits who have expressed an interest.
There will need to be efforts made to help people get the medical care and other assistance they need. There will need to be efforts to help people find more permanent housing. Outreach to neighboring residents and businesses is going to be critical. Mitigating their concerns and any ongoing challenges will make all the difference.
These temporary managed camps won’t be enough to meet the need. But it’s another step toward what’s right, a compassionate approach.