I am writing concerning the city’s plan to purchase the Value Inn on NE Division Street so it can be turned into another homeless shelter. Without bothering to confer with business owners and residents, the city has decided to set up a third shelter on Division Street bringing the homeless shelters in the area to three.
Two homeless shelters, The Shepherd’s House and Bethlehem Inn, are located in close proximity of one another. If the city is successful in purchasing The Value Inn in the middle of Division, we will have three shelters clustered in one place. Three is too many and will create an environment that can draw transients and other strangers to wander around the neighborhood. Some people come to the area even now to access the amenities (meals and showers) at the Shepherd’s House and the Bethlehem Inn.
“No trespassing” signs are ignored, and people park on empty lots in the middle of a residential area, making the tenants uncomfortable. Those tenants are forced to avoid the lots when they can. In addition to the shelters there are camps in the area, which serve many people. These camps generate garbage and bad odors from using the outdoors as a toilet. With so many shelters in such a small area, the city is inadvertently creating Bend’s first ghetto and, possibly, the demise of businesses.
Division Street is the access point to downtown Bend. Because it was only an old part of town, it was neglected and ignored for many years. But with new interest and investments from various businesses, Division was given life and is now something to be proud of. There are two businesses across from, and near, the Value Inn that have recently spent millions of dollars to improve and renovate their buildings. Owners on Division are deeply disturbed and worried about the future. Only one block away from the proposed new shelter is a newer development of beautiful homes where property values will be in question. Already, we know that shelters are a magnet for many homeless and transients who do not qualify for admittance to Shepherd’s House (on Division) or Bethlehem Inn (on Third Street close to Division). There are presently several serious camps on nearby empty lots or under bridges on Division allowing people to take advantage of the generosity of the present two facilities.
We believe that another shelter on Division Street will undermine the efforts of the owners of businesses and residences. No one thought about the real possibility that the huge money grant of more than $9 million from the state would impact the tranquility and success of Bend’s businesses and residents. We expect the city to be responsible to all concerned, not just a small minority of citizens, but for all. Creating a ghetto is not the answer. More deliberation and planning must go into solving Bend’s homeless problem.
I know there are people who like the homeless lifestyle and will continue camping out. Training and finding work should be a requirement for receiving any aid. People who are of poor health could be helped another way, perhaps halfway houses.
We urgently request the city to be responsible and just in its decision making. The whole city must share in the homeless problem not just owners in any single area. Homeless shelters should be spread out, north to south, east to west. The city must reconsider its decision to purchase the Value Inn and find an alternative in another area of Bend. There are plenty more motels in Bend that could be under consideration.