The biggest challenge for homelessness in Central Oregon may be that people want solutions but nearly nobody wants a managed camp near them.
But there are other challenges. One was identified Tuesday at the meeting of the Emergency Homeless Task Force: There’s no connector.
There are service providers. Those are the people doing the work of bringing counseling, medical care, housing assistance, job assistance to people with no homes.
There are the government entities, the city of Bend, Deschutes County and many more. They handle code changes, funding and provide some people power.
But as Bend City Councilor Megan Perkins put it: “There’s no connector.” A missing piece can be the leadership and coordination to get all the providers and government entities working together and cooperating.
That is in a way the purpose of the Emergency Homeless Task Force — representatives from the governments and providers are meeting to cooperate. One thing the task force is doing is developing a new strategic plan for the homeless.
Think about this, though, as suggested Tuesday by Tammy Baney, executive director of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council. In 2015 a strategic plan was developed to prevent and end homelessness in Central Oregon: High Desert Home. It was an update to the “Central Oregon 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness” from 2011.
There was progress on those plans. But was there really enough accountability? Was there ownership of the plans and somebody taking responsibility for them? And who will play that role for the Emergency Homeless Task Force’s plan? Who will keep the group aligned? Who will own the plan and take responsibility for it?
To a large degree that role has defaulted to the Homeless Leadership Coalition. It’s another regional group with many providers and government agencies participating. But those people and the HLC leadership have other jobs and responsibilities. All the passion to prevent and reduce homelessness only goes so far if people lack the time, energy and brainspace to be the connector and lead.
If no place is a good place for a managed camp, that is going to be a real problem. If no person or persons have the time and authority to be the connector and hold all the groups working so hard accountable to their new goals, that will be a big problem, too.