The number of people experiencing homelessness in Central Oregon has steadily risen for the past decade, and on any given night nearly 1,000 people in our region are sleeping outside or in a vehicle. This is an urgent humanitarian and public health crisis. But finding solutions to overcome the complexities of homelessness can be frustrating and difficult. Doing better for Bend takes courage from our local leaders. Instead of turning a blind eye to the problem, the Bend City Council has stepped up to help tackle it.

Because we know the status quo is unacceptable, this Council is doing more than ever before to find solutions that will make a difference. Working to graduate people out of homelessness doesn’t mean we have to accept unsafe camping on Bend streets, so we’re creating a plan to regulate camping in public places, too.

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Melanie Kebler is a Bend City Councilor and a candidate for mayor in the November election.

(12) comments



The camping codes to place restrictions around time, place, and manner that are being vetted by Current City Council is NOT looking favorable in terms of public safety.

Kebler (running for Mayor) and other councilors are more concerned about the perceived "Feelings" of homeless people more public safety. And open to un-managed camps being near schools and parks.

Will Bend Parks & Rec comply with Bend City Councilors and allow overnight camping on their park properties?

Will Bend La Pine School Board of Education take a stance against UN-managed camps near their schools?

Councilor Perkins and Mitchell are more comfortable with UN-managed camps being near schools. And UN-comfortable with the perceived impact on the potential “feelings” of a homeless person.

Mayor Goodman-Campbell states no buffer is needed near schools, just don’t allow UN-managed camps to block rights-of-way such as the driveway to drop your kids off at school.

The irony is that, although most of the Councilors don’t want to allow UN-managed camps in residential zones…well news flash!


The Councilors’ position is either trickery or manipulation to mis-lead folks into thinking that residential zones will be protected by camping codes.

Or utter incompetency!

As a matter of fact, public school buses pick up children from the forest, parks, other random areas to get the homeless children to school. So NO excuse for them to say, we need to make sure homeless kids get to school.

The Bend City Council are more concerned about protecting:

-WATER…NOT your children and school staff at schools

-CITY HALL…NOT your children and the general community at parks

-potentially hurting a homeless person’s FEELINGS with an implied label, not your homes and neighborhoods

-HOMELESS SHELTERS and SAFE PARKING(un-housed and shelter staff)…NOT the housed folks who live near schools and parks

Watch from 1hr 17 minutes to 1hr 29 minutes.

-1hr 18 min, Kebler (running for Mayor) “might” be interested in buffers near schools

-1hr 19 min, Perkins is “adamantly opposed” to restricting UN-managed camps near schools and parks

-1hr 22 min, Mitchell would “love” UN-managed camps in parks and fine with them being near schools

-1hr 27 min, Mayor Goodman-Campbell, no buffers near schools, only disallow school rights-of-ways and acknowledges most schools and parks are in residential zones

August 3rd, Bend City Council meeting


The Camping codes needed to be updated when crime increased, back in 2021.

There are current codes that are NOT enforced today. If this level of crime is accepted in one part of town, then you can apply the logic that this lawlessness can occur anywhere in long as the Bend City Council allows it.

Bend is clearly following San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle failed strategies that waste millions and the human suffering compounded for the housed, and un-housed.

Kebler wrote "Working to graduate people out of homelessness doesn’t mean we have to accept unsafe camping on Bend streets, so we’re creating a plan to regulate camping in public places, too."


Interesting comparison. Houston Metro 2020 population is 7,122,240. Homeless count in 2022 is 3,223. Data taken from That number includes Harris county, Montgomery county and Fort Bend county. That calculates to a homeless rate of 0.000453. The city of Bend and Deschutes county emergency homeless task force reports nearly 1,000 people in central Oregon experiencing homelessness on any given night. Let’s use 950 for purposes of comparison to Houston. I just looked up the 2020 population of Deschutes County. It is showing 191,749. Crook county 23,733 and Jefferson county 24,048. Three county total: 239,530. The rate for homelessness in Central Oregon calculates at 0.003966. The Central Oregon homeless rate is nearly nine times that of the Houston metro. Does city council have the funds to house a homeless population nine times greater than that of Houston’s?

It is our current policies that got us where we are now and the city councilor wants to do more of that?


Someone is paying attention! Can this council embrace the idea of using data to craft policy? They seem to disregard data from surveys, data from state or county agencies.


Their confirmation bias won't let them "see" any facts counter to their preconceived notions.


They just read the NY Times and ran with it. There's no expertise here, just well-meaning people. They's be aghast to learn that Houston has no zoning. It's got massive urban sprawl and of course you can build thousands of apartments because of cheap labor. Also, law enforcement there prevents homeless camps from repopulating once they've been cleared.


First, a 60% reduction is extraordinary and requires extraordinary proof. No community in the country has ever done that. Data needs to be verified.

Second, Houston clears encampments and uses the police to prevent encampments from repopulating. They balance compassion with law enforcement.

Third, stop saying you'll end homelessness. You can't. Every national expert will tell you that you can't end homelessness, you can only provide services.


Homelessness is a problem for all of us, directly and/or indirectly. It is a complex problem for all involved as well and the array of solutions are complex. Some of the risk factors seem to be policy driven and perhaps if we worked on minimizing how current land use laws drive land prices up, it would be easier for people to afford housing. It does make some sense that if defining issue of being homeless is solved, housing without consideration of sobriety, perhaps the other pieces they need to become productive citizens with a positive self image again would be accelerated.

But we must be question what we are doing and not just fall for what we hope to see. Is housing first really working to get people back to a productive life or are we just making it easier for people to continue in their homeless lifestyle, mental crises and drug use? Are people dying due to or with public support intended to help? Is it not necessary to confirm with evidence over time that our actions, intentions, resources and money are achieving positive goals? I still don't get the sense that this is happening by our elected city council.


Voters! Remember the packed council meetings on this topic where an overwhelming majority of people disagreed with code changes. Remember the survey on houselessness, again where the majority did not support the policies this council adopted to code. Remember feeling “cancelled” if you disagreed with them, even feeling they accused you of being privileged and heartless, even though it’s your privilege of volunteer time and money the charitable organizations of Bend depend upon to do their good work. Bend needs our Mayor and Council (and staff) to represent and balance all the needs of the community. We need leadership to listen to our businesses and react quickly to needed solutions. How long was 2nd street a mess? This council didn’t want to take action for far too long. We need balanced perspectives on our council, we didn’t get that last time around.


You said “Council (and staff) need to represent and balance all the needs of the community.”. That is true. It is also true that the “passionate” show up for council meetings and they may not represent the community as a whole. But they do represent the noisiest of our community.


I completely agree with Solange 20. I am on the board of SWNA here in Bend. Our board spent over half a year engaging with the current city council (that I actually voted for unfortunately) on the shelter code amendment changes and they did not listen to the community members of Bend despite the engagement we provided. They put out a survey that later they used as an "education piece" because what the survey revealed did not match their agenda. They ran on platforms that they are not living up to. I am very disappointed to say the least and VOTING it's really important this Fall. We need a council that is going to be more representative and listen to our community and base decisions for the greater good of our community not their political agendas.


The housing first strategy has been proven to fail time and time again around the country , yet the Bend City Council insists on pursuing this approach . This just shows all of us that they value their own personal agendas regardless of what’s best for the community at large . We need to vote them out !

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