Homeless

City of Bend officials and Deschutes County officials are to meet Thursday to try to sort out how to coordinate their efforts on homelessness. The consequences will continue to be heartbreaking if they fail.

This week the homeless camp at the Revere overpass for the Bend Parkway was removed by the Oregon Department of Transportation. It’s just as the weather is getting colder.

Where are those people supposed to go? There is no place.

Earlier this year the city removed the homeless camp on Emerson Avenue in Bend.

Where were those people supposed to go? There was no place.

So how can the city and the county do better with the limited resources they have? How can they attract more resources? A joint city/county homeless office is one idea.

It would take money just to set it up. It needs to be staffed. It needs a mission. It needs a clear outline of its powers and purpose. It may be the best answer is just to start with the county and Bend, but other cities in the county surely need the help, too.

The City of Bend and Deschutes County Emergency Homelessness Task Force met this week and talked about how the office might work. Overall, Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang suggested it needs to complement what is already taking place. It could provide coordination and leadership.

It wouldn’t necessarily tell the city, the county, the Homeless Leadership Coalition and the other organizations involved in helping the homeless what to do. But somebody needs to coordinate their efforts. To see the gaps and find a way to plug them.

It should perhaps be in a leadership role to advocate at the state and the federal level on issues agreed to by elected leaders of the city and county. That could be in terms of policy changes and for money.

Money is always going to be a critical issue. The federal money from the American Rescue Plan has enabled the city to do many things, such as adding shelter beds. Those are one-time, as Bend City Manager Eric King pointed out. Where is the money to support those efforts going to come from — let alone to expand them?

If you think Bend and the county’s response to homelessness is adequate, there is nothing you need to do. But if you think the city and the county need to do a better job of coordinating efforts and a joint homeless office would help, let them know. You can email councilors at council@bendoregon.gov and commissioners at board@deschutes.org.

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(2) comments

DDouglas

It seems to me our leaders lump all the homeless around us into a single category: ‘homeless’. But aren’t there really two categories: ‘redeemable’ and ‘non-redeemable’? I define the ‘redeemable’ as those who are willing and able to work, given the chance. The ‘non-redeemable are those who, due to drugs and/or mental or other conditions, cannot be considered ‘redeemable’.

In my opinion, any taxpayer monies spent to address the ‘homeless problem’ should focus on the redeemable among the homeless. Surely, if they have full bellies, can bathe and dress neatly, and can get to a job site, they will. But the core issue among those is the high cost of putting a roof over their head.

I think individuals in the homeless population should be interviewed by qualified persons and if they meet the criteria for being redeemable, then provide them with a roof, someplace where they can bathe and keep their clothing, foodstuffs, and transportation to their job. Part of this support would be the City and County working with private business to help the redeemable get their job. Given some time, the people in this program should become self-supporting and permanently off the homeless polls.

This idea means the City and County must work together and with business to temporarily meet the basic needs of the redeemables. Unlike the apparent one-category approach being taken now, the proposed program has benefits to all of the City and County and the cooperating businesses, as well as a providing lifeline for the individuals in the program.

BuckeyeDuck

Interesting idea, and some of it (interviews and placement) has been brought up before.

What happens with the non redeemable and who makes the judgement.

Very complex issue with the mix of folks on the street. That includes kids kicked out of the house and on their own.

Welcome to the discussion.

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