If your world is nice clothes, nice car, nice home or even just decent in all three, you may never know what it’s like to be homeless. We can’t say we know what it’s like.
But it’s one reason why some talk about there being two different Bends. A lack of understanding, a lack of sympathy or caring means the one Bend has pretty much ignored the plight of the homeless Bend.
One Bend is heard. It has a voice. It has all the voices. It makes the decisions for the other.
And just look where we are. Drive along Revere near the Bend Parkway. Drive out to Hunnell Road or any number of other locations. More people without homes living in Bend.
Some committed people and some nonprofits make outstanding efforts to help people find better shelter, find jobs and find needed medical care.
Others complain about “the homeless problem.” Some put pressure on local or state officials. Some don’t care or care little.
Bend city councilors are routinely excoriated at recent council meetings for not doing enough. Councilors and the city are, though, doing more.
We listened to a council subcommittee Thursday work with city staff to try to figure out where a managed camp might be located at Juniper Ridge. One site might be on a section of 26 acres of city property that may be the future home of the city’s public works. Another might be a cleared area, essentially after where 18th Street ends. A separate RV camp might be done in cooperation with or with help from county government.
There’s no nearby bus stop. Streets, water, sewer, well, there’s work to do. And there are other hurdles. Nearby businesses and homeowners will have questions and concerns. That shouldn’t be given the side eye as simply NIMBYism. Fire danger, for one, is real when people are camping. And people living at any of these formal sites will be a small subset of a larger population of people who live nearby in the woods.
There are many other questions. How will these camps be run? Should a managed camp location or a RV camp location become a place where services are offered to other people living nearby? How would that impact the privacy and safety of the people actually living in the camps? And how will the city and nonprofits get input from people who are homeless about what they want and need?