hunnell (copy)

Hunnell Road on the north side of Bend is home to a camp of people experiencing homelessness as seen in this February 2021 photo.

No matter what Bend city councilors do, they are going to face pushback about the location of homeless shelters and city-approved managed camps.

You don’t need proof, but there was more on Friday.

A group of coaches affiliated with the Bend-La Pine Schools sent an email to the city expressing concern about the city’s plans to locate a managed camp near Bend Senior High School and Bear Creek Elementary. “The current decision to offer RV and tent camping in between the school campuses creates homeless opportunities at the expense of student safety,” they wrote.

Safety was also a concern when we went recently to listen to a city meeting with neighbors for the proposed hotel to house homeless on NE Division Street.

So what should the city do? Abandon both plans?

Where is the right place to put a managed camp? Is Juniper Ridge more OK because it’s not as close to a school? Perhaps, but what about the families who live near there or the businesses nearby? Is NE Division Street more OK? Shouldn’t homeless camps be located more than just the northeast part of town?

When a subcommittee of Bend city councilors met earlier in the week, they confronted the question of how to respond to public concerns about homeless camps. Both Councilors Melanie Kebler and Barb Campbell said a version of: “We are going to get objections no matter what.”

They were discussing parking for city managed homeless camps. How much should the city require?

Kebler argued for no requirements. The nonprofits the city partners with to run the camps should be able to decide for themselves how much parking is needed, she said. If the city requires parking, it could require too much and that could eat into the space for people to live at the camp.

But councilors know that parking in neighborhoods can be a sore spot. So if the city has no parking requirements and parking for a homeless camp spills into a neighborhood, it could be another issue for neighbors to complain about.

Yes, councilors are going to face objections about homeless camps no matter what. We’d argue they also are going to face objections charging them with not doing enough for the homeless no matter what.

Homelessness doesn’t yield to easy solutions. Finding ways to reduce it means we have to do things a lot differently than we do with unmanaged camps all over town. It’s not going to improve in Bend unless people start saying: How can we this make this work? Instead of: Not here.

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(6) comments


please don't continue to treat a symptom rather than the causes.

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!!!!


Yo City of Bend ^^^^^^. This is why I don't trust the Bend city councilors to do anything efficiently as they don't seem to have any concept that "The homeless" do not constitute a single group that wants to be helped. There are some for sure and we can target them and absolutely agree that unnecessary rules getting in the way of those who want to get back on their feet need to be modified or eliminated. They will waste money, resources and public patience and when things fail, will just double down at our expense.


Yo Skittish//////. So, you're able to read the minds of the Council and what they do or don't know? I noticed two said no matter what they work/decide on someone won't like. Give us your solution (s). The other poster has some ideas, or are you in the camp of run em out of town.


They have never explained what they are thinking and the quotes in the paper are only about "The Homeless" as a monolith. So I shouldn't point out their lack of articulated insight because they haven't or can't give any? One would think that as leaders of the community, they would explain themselves, especially on something so controversial. As a community member, I should be able to point out their lack of communication and apparent knowledge. I would ask you why they don't, but past experience has shown you aren't capable of expressing anything beyond criticism and don't believe in free speech. It's pretty obvious race hustling and projection of your prejudiced and racist views onto whites is your game.

If I was for running all homeless out of town, that statement doesn't make any sense as I am agreeing with the above poster. Only those that cause trouble and can't be helped as they have chosen such a lifestyle should be encouraged to leave.


Good ideas. Group 5 mentally ill


And where do the taxpayers of Bend fit into our city council's priorities?

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