Individual tiny homes for 15 veterans with support for them. It may sound small, but it’s an extraordinary leap forward for this community’s efforts to find answers for the homeless.
The Central Oregon Veterans Village broke ground last month. It’s on a plot of Deschutes County -owned land near the Sheriff’s Office off U.S. Highway 20 on the north end of Bend. It could have its first residents some time this month.
That’s what can happen when dedicated volunteers, staff, local officials and the state Legislature work together.
On Wednesday, another hurdle was squashed. Bend’s Affordable Housing Committee voted unanimously to exempt the project from city of Bend system development charges of $130,597.40. It then passed a second motion asking the Bend Park & Recreation District to do the same. Those charges are $88,890.
Don Horton, the park district’s executive director, said the veterans village is “a unique opportunity.”
“Our SDC ordinance on affordable housing does allow the board to consider project like this and gives them the discretion to approve,” he told us Thursday in an email. “Staff is planning on bringing this project to the board.”
Let’s hope the park district can do it.
So many others have chipped in to make this development happen. A critical piece was House Bill 4212, sponsored by House Speaker Tina Kotek. That bill swept away the land use hurdles that can make siting an emergency shelter so challenging. Former state Rep. Cheri Helt helped ensure this development would fit under HB 4212. Deschutes County commissioners granted the project a 10 -year lease on the county land — for free. And they threw in $150,000 to help with construction and a commitment of $100,000 per year to help provide the vital services to help the veterans improve their lives. It’s really the Bend Heroes Foundation and Central Oregon Veterans Outreach that have led on this project and vowed to make it a success. There are many, many more who have contributed we are not listing here.
The project will continue to face needs for volunteers and financial support. Check out centraloregonveteransvillage.org. See what you can do to help.