The homeless and their camps have been much in the news lately, which has prompted me to wonder, as follows:

1. Why do homeless camps always look like the Knott Landfill? Can the homeless not afford trash bags (they seem to be able to afford cellphones and cigarettes)? Do the homeless have no concept of sanitation or neatness? Do they think the world is their personal toilet/trash dump?

2. Why does one always see lots of stolen shopping carts in homeless camps? Do these people think they are entitled to free shopping carts?

3. Is it really possible to “rehabilitate” these people? If you are getting plenty of handouts, with more in the pipeline, why would you want to change your lifestyle? Isn’t it easier to live unhoused without any responsibilities or obligations, especially when homeless advocates — including various governmental agencies — are or will be providing you with the necessities of life? Why would you want to get clean and sober and work a minimum wage (or slightly better) job and have to pay rent and buy utilities and groceries and go to work regularly when you can just continue your homeless lifestyle?

4. Are the homeless advocates really interesting in improving the lot of the homeless? After all, if there were no homeless, what would these advocates do to justify themselves?

We deserve answers to these questions. One wonders if they will be forthcoming.

— Mike Koonce Bend

Establish a homeless camp

Thank you Allan Bruckner for your reasoned insights into Bend/Deschutes County’s approaches to homelessness. Your thoughtful analysis of how little our jurisdictions really know about the makeup and growth of the homeless population in our area was valuable!

So I tend conservative but not heartless. There are people who are hurting and deserve help with the necessities of living here. For those in tough circumstances, we have always been a community and state that looked to help.

Our need is to understand which populations can work out of their current state of homelessness and which populations have a limited chance of success. Getting to this baseline information needs to be organized at the county level. We have outstanding nonprofit organizations that can evaluate and follow the progress of these populations. But the nonprofits do not have the authority, facilities or resources to service and organize an ongoing successful response.

The county and city must find a location and establish a livable homeless camp where intake, evaluation, application of resources and direction can be provided to those needing help in jobs, skills and lifestyle changes. Participants will have to accept the intrusiveness that these processes imply as a trade-off for a better future.

If the community sees that a safe, healthy transitory camp can be established that facilitates moving citizens toward independence, the public acceptance of the cost should follow. Committing resources is justified.

— Jerry Druliner, Bend

E-bikes can cause problems on singletrack

Many of my friends own e-bikes, and it is wonderful to see them enjoying the outdoors and getting more exercise than they previously did. I am approaching 70 years old and know that at some point I will be joining their ranks, but for now I am fortunate to enjoy good health and the ability to ride the old fashioned way.

I have one big concern regarding sharing the trails with my motorized counterparts. I imagine myself pedaling up a long, narrow moderate to strenuous singletrack incline. My heart is racing. I’m gasping for air but making steady progress when I am approached from behind by someone on an e-bike. My only option is to stop, step off the trail and lift my bike off the trail in order to allow them to pass. At that point, I would not be able to regain enough momentum to continue my ride up the narrow trail and would be forced to walk.

In Mr. Zapp’s recent guest column, he makes accusations of elitism, vigilantism and discrimination by those of us who ride unassisted. However, in my opinion, it is a matter of equality. I often see people using their e-bikes as scooters with little or no pedaling involved. I have no objection to sharing double-track trails or wide, flat singletrack trails that have room to pass with those who use their e-bikes only for assistance, but I shouldn’t be forced to abort my ride by someone who has the advantage of electrical power! There are situations where e-bikes do not level the playing field.

— Candy Sheldon, Redmond

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Tom Pained


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