Hunnell Road (copy)

Vehicles line Hunnell Road on the north side of Bend

Cities and counties across Oregon are hoping to get in on state Rep. Jason Kropf‘s bill that would create a pilot program to provide coordination to better address homeless issues. And the Bend Democrat’s proposed bill for the 2022 session would come with money to fund a joint city/county office at five locations in the state.

Will Bend/Deschutes County be one of them? They have until Dec. 10 to express interest. The city of Bend is interested. Deschutes County commissioners are scheduled to take up the issue Monday.

It would be disappointing if the commissioners decided to let this opportunity pass the county by. County and city support are required.

“We all know that further action is needed to address houselessness in Central Oregon and across the state,” Kropf told us in a statement. “Too many of our families, veterans, seniors, young people and others don’t have a safe and stable place to call home. By coming together, we can identify solutions that work for everyone. I am proud to be partnering with leaders and community members in our area and around the state to create a pilot program that will help communities tackle houselessness.”

The goal of the legislation is to help coordinate government, nonprofits and more to maximize their efforts to limit houselessness. There is no formal draft language for the bill, yet. And it’s not clear if the Legislature backs the pilot program, how much money it would be willing to invest. Kropf mentioned $5 million.

What is clear if you talk to people working on the bill, there are already more than five locations interested in joining the pilot. Presumably, Deschutes County and Bend would be awarded funding because it is Kropf’s bill. That is, if the county expresses interest.

If you have been following The Bulletin’s coverage of homelessness, there are many issues needing attention. For us, a couple of things stand out. There is an acute need to provide more opportunities for some of the most vulnerable homeless — unaccompanied minors, the elderly, veterans, the disabled. The county and the city of Bend could use this pilot program to better coordinate efforts to address those immediate needs.

There is also a need for leadership and accountability of the many organizations and government agencies and programs. They all do their best. There are efforts at coordination. They do work together. The regional Homeless Leadership Coalition can do some, but the people who are members of that coalition already have other jobs and responsibilities. What’s needed is someone or an office who can focus on the leadership role. The office could also look for opportunities to bring in more money and build more capacity to help move people out of homelessness.

The bill’s concept includes requirements, such as development of a plan to address homelessness and reports to the Legislature. Deschutes County and Bend have already been working on a plan through the city/county Emergency Homelessness Task Force.

One long-term issue is going to be money. If the pilot works in Deschutes County, it should be continued. Money would have to be found to do that.

You can see more details about the possible program in documents attached to the Deschutes County Commission’s agenda for Monday, Dec. 6. You can let commissioners know what you think at board@deschutes.org.

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(5) comments

guest1874

Correlation does not always equal causation. The highest rates of homelessness are also predominately in “blue” states or counties on the coasts and major urban centers. Housing First and “harm reduction” drug policies are also the de facto policies. There’s far less encampments and tent cities where cities do not allow it while still complying with Boise v Martin so it’s not a slam dunk, even with the Zillow study. Fact is it can also be tied to societal trends where homeless people are viewed as victims(always) therefore they cannot be held accountable for their actions in any way, shape, or form. What most normal, everyday people object to is not the mere existence of homeless people but the view in their eyes that they aren’t held to the same standard as everyone else. They can park or camp anywhere with zero consequences. They can refuse shelter because it’s not up to their “standard”. There’s absolutely no accountability. We as a society have certain social contracts in place and those are slowly being eroded in the name of “compassion”. Most reasonable people will absolutely support measures to alleviate homelessness but it has to be coupled with enforcement of basic laws that apply to everyone equally AND show results for the spending.

Less than half a percent of Deschutes Co residents are classified as unsheltered homeless. 776 out of 197,692 yet almost daily articles and social media posts would have you think we’re in the midst of an exploding crisis with 10s of thousands of people “at risk”. The solution is always more money. No one bothers to ask what verifiable results came from what’s already spent yearly. 3/4 of a million as of 2020, not counting the pandemic funds. That’s yearly taxpayer funds, not counting donations to non-profits that serve the same population either. Out of the number of beds in the County, what’s the turnover? How many are vacant at any one time? Does this County even know or have the capability to track it? Get any politician or public official to define for you the term “housed”. You might be surprised. Central Oregon has a horrible track record for keeping people housed. Less than 20% after 5 years, meaning less than 20 people out of a 100 after 5 years are still in permanent housing. That’s data going back to 2015 so way before this crazy real estate market we’re currently in. Circling back to correlation/causation-maybe lack of housing isn’t the only or even primary reason why these folks can’t stay housed?

Thomas Who

1) Bring in homeless people to flood the area.

2) Make it as easy as possible to for them to stay by providing services.

3) Then ask taxpayers to fund new government departments to help deal with the “crisis”.

4) Never put forth proposals, or use taxpayer funds to reduce homelessness.

91184

The vast majority of the homeless population in Bend is from here.

guest1874

Not saying I agree with what the other poster wrote but there's no way to declare conclusively that most are locals either. The point in time homeless survey questions are open-ended and there is no verification whatsoever. They're simply asked. People lie about their age, weight, income all the time yet we take everything someone who is homeless with underlying drug/alcohol issues or have suffered trauma at face value?

91184

Higher rates of homelessness appear in areas where the cost of living is higher. It would stand to reason that residents of locales where the cost of living has risen dramatically in the last several years/decade would be displaced, with some choosing (or rather having no choice) but to reside in their vehicles, tent, street, etc.

I don't have a perfect understanding of the rigor involved in the point-in-time surveys, but I'm also not going to presume that those answering are all broken people who can't truthfully answer survey questions. Some things aren't verifiable, but it's better than nothing right now.

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