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Knopp, Bend weigh in on state bill requiring housing options for homeless camp removal

'We want to try to make sure that people don't have to camp on a sidewalk or on a public lot, or in a park'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --The homeless policy in Bend could be changing in coming months, this time as a result of an expected new state law.

The Oregon Legislature passed a bill Wednesday designed to protect homeless people staying in public places.

And on Thursday, the Oregon House passed legislation to add $9.7 million to an emergency shelter fund, through Project Turnkey. The Bend Value Inn could soon become an emergency shelter for the homeless in Bend.

House Bill 3115 would mandate homeless people in Oregon cannot be removed from public places, unless there's an alternative place for them to go. The bill is meant to protect homeless campers in public spaces.

It is in response to a federal appeals court ruling, Martin vs. Boise, that states punishing a person for sleeping or staying outside when there is no alternative is cruel and unusual. The U.S. Supreme Court let that ruling stand, declining to hear an appeal.

State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, voted for the bill.

"I thought it was the most compassionate thing that we could do at this time, based on the Supreme Court decision,” Knopp told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday.

Knopp says the bill, sent to Gov. Kate Brown's desk, is meant to get people off the streets and into safer situations. 

"I think we want to try to make sure that people don't have to camp on a sidewalk or on a public lot or in a park,” Knopp said.

The bill states that any ordinance forbidding people from sleeping or staying in public places has to be "objective or reasonable."

"'Objective or reasonable' means that you have to have an alternative place for them to go -- otherwise it's not objective or reasonable,” Knopp said. 

He said that an "alternative place" should be the top priority. 

"No. 1, you're going to need to create a space for either the city council, county commissioner, or both, create a space where they can go, where they can overnight, where they can rest,” Knopp said.

City of Bend Communications Director Anne Aurand said in an email that "The bill does not apply to the city's administrative policy on removal of established campsites," adopted recently by the city council.

If signed by the governor, the new law would take effect on July 1, 2023. Aurand said any potential application of the bill would wait until then.

However, Knopp says it's not just the city that will need to help make this change.

"Well, I think the pressure is on all of us to continue to work together on a solution -- it's not just cities and counties,” Knopp said. “The state, the federal government, cities, and the community need to engage and work to make sure that we're resolving the issue."

NewsChannel 21 spoke with Bend Mayor Sally Russell as well. She said although she had not fully reviewed the bill, that the city has been following the court ruling closely.

Russell said the city has been routinely ahead of state policies regarding homelessness and  is actively working to find a safe solution for the homeless in Bend. She noted that Deschutes County has agreed to provide $1.1 million in matching federal relief funds to work together on identifying a site for a managed campsite for homeless residents.

Bend / Government-politics / Top Stories
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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

Comments

48 Comments

    1. As the city Parks owns that land, it is public and we hope the two city councilors who reside near that park will champion the conversion of the park to a long term camping facility as a suitable alternative for the homeless population in Bend. But then the NIMBYs of that ratified air part of town would never allow that to happen…

        1. A separate taxing entity that taxes the same tax base. No matter how you look at it or phrase it, taxes come from the public. Therefore the public taxpayers own the land.

          1. No just clarifying that the park district is a separate taxing entity, with its own boundaries etc. I’m sure we’ll be looking into the impacts of the bill if the governor signs it, on various entities.

  1. “Oregon Bill to promote and encourage more “homeless” people to come to Oregon and live for free”. Free shelter, free food, free health and dental, free time to continue drug habits and who knows what else. No need to work. Just wake up whenever you want, do whatever you want and taxpayers will pay for your lifestyle while they go to work, deal with the daily rituals of a RESPONSIBLE life. If it’s mental illness, then lock them up in a mental institution so they can’t be free to roam the streets, parks, etc and harm people, burn down businesses. Look at Portland and how many business buildings have been burnt down due to these people. Two yesterday. Salem recently lost a huge storage facility because of a 23 year old “homeless” person. 23? How and what did a person do to become “homeless” at 23? Oregon is a destination for the junkie, the criminal, etc.

    1. My question to you…how does a 23 year d afford $1200 plus month rent, deposit etc. I’m guessing you’ll say get a roommate. Could you have afforded that at 23?

      Do you know his family history? What has happened on his journey? Or are you just being judgemental.

      Lastly ~ many homeless individuals are Vets. Women/ men. Familiarize yourself with COVO.

      1. He moves to Prineville, thats how? I want to live beach front, but i can’t afford to, so i dont….pretty simple frog eyes…..riiiibit!

      2. When I was that age Bend was cheap. I even owned my house by then. The irony is wealthy out of towners move to Bend, raise the cost of everything, then complain about where the poor are going to live. Even better is the Salem bureaucrats who decide where that little “UGB” stake is on the outside of town.

      3. You afford what your income and your spending habits let you afford at whatever age you are. At 23 I was purchasing my second home and having kids, along with a pickup, car and a boat. Was broke but at that time of life it was important to impress friends.

  2. Why do people always go to calling the homeless junkies? You know I have talked to several homeless and there either vets or one I talked to his home was taken by the county, because he lost his job do to the pandemic. But all you people do nothing but judge, if you havent realized there’s a bunch of houses being built and more empty then there are homeless maybe they should lower the rent so people can afford to live in them

    1. You do realize that is like only 5% of homeless folks that don’t want to be homeless right? The majority have drinking, drugs, and mental health issues and because we live in America, you can’t force the 95% of people into rehab or a mental health facility that is trained to handle them. Nor did they want help, at least not until they truly reach rock bottom and as for help.

      This is not an affordable housing issue. It maybe for the 5% that want to work and don’t have drinking or drug problems. You can’t put drug addicts, drunks, and mental people in a house or apartment by themselves and expect them to maintain it or even ever to afford to pay any of their bills. IF you do, you will end up with trashed places, and people that have OD and died….then their families will sue the city/state/nonprofit for allowing their so called “loved one” (I say this loosely, since if they were they family, why did they allow them to live this way in the first place), for $$.

      It is an impossible situation. They will refuse to go to shelters, and the shelters will sit empty. At which point, you can now kick them out of public land. So build a big warehouse and through a few hundred cots in them and some portapotties. There you go, period. They now have a “bed for them”, then kick them out of their campsite when they refuse to leave. Cite that they. Have a free bed at the shelter and be done with it.

      You can’t say that the majority of these folks want your idea of dignity, when they refuse help, rehab, meds, not living in a trash pile with human waste, needles, stolen bikes and carts. It is impossible to save them all when they don’t want to be saved in the 1st place. Save the 5% that want help and move the others somewhere else. Again, since we live in America, we can’t force any of the remaining 95% to the help they need, which is sad. Especially, for the ones that aren’t mentally capable of making rational choices for themselves.

      We also have an issue that many of these folks are not local Bend citizens, or even Oregon state citizens. So why are us locals having to pay for other state’s people?

      But, for the rest of us that pay taxes, work hard and make sacrifices for our family etc….we should not have to enable and support people that don’t want our help to begin with. Nor should we have to be held hostage by their piles of hazardous waste, crime, drugs, fights, fires, blocking parks, city sidewalks, etc. IF they want to have all that, then the state and county needs to set up a designated area for these folks to go and live in their own garbage, drugs etc somewhere away from the rest of us that don’t want to have it in our city, playgrounds, schools, and neighborhoods. Give them access to clean drinking water, bathrooms (no showers), and a spot to put their tent or RV. Nothing else. Any non profit can feel free to go there and do what they want. Maybe they can be the contact points for those 5% that want to get help. They can then send those folks on to better support service to get them the help they need rehab, housing, job training, etc.

      IT is sad situation. But the last thing we all need is to be sued because these folks want to trash up our city and parks…..especially, when they refuse to get help or go to a shelter. The rest of us should not be held hostage by it.

      And yes, I am a person that supports my local food banks, charities, SPCA, and international aid. But…you can’t help people that don’t want help and you can’t force it on them.

      Sadly, the only real solution borders on creating camp zones for these folks and building large warehouse with cots in order to say that there is a bed for them to go to and those buildings will mainly sit empty.

      So instead of everyone complaining go to city hall or the state and give them your ideas, research what other countries are doing, cite studies etc. These state reps and congress people are not specialist in how to deal with these problems. So go give them your ideas and what proof that they might work. We normal citizens and nonprofits know more than they do!

    2. We know lower the rent won’t happen. The 4 story one at the Butte is almost 2 grand a month. We have maybe 2 affordable housing places in town. Too much profit for out of state developers

    3. Buy an apartment complex and provide cheap rent. Then start a business and provide a “living wage.” It’s easy, right? But the reality is. If these homeless campers didn’t trash the places they might be a little more welcome. No one wants a shanty filled with garbage in their neighborhood.

    4. I call BS! No one lost a home due to COVID in Oregon. He’s probably not a vet either. There’s alot of stolen valore among those bums and it’s disgusting.

  3. Translation…. What this bill will do is make homelessness even more of a responsibility and monetary burden of the working middle class. You want to kick a tent camper off the sidewalk in your culdesac? Won’t happen until the city finds him/her a room on your (our) taxpayer dollars…..

  4. the city should just set up “tent row” and charge to sleep in them, if they can afford dope they can afford a weekly tent rental, complete with trash pickup, and will even empty your chamber pot all at an affordable bend resident tax hike

  5. Help me understand this. I have a small house in LaPine. I also have a two story garage on the property with what could be a small apartment. This is located on four acres. I would like to have my daughter who needs housing live in the upper room in the shop. The county however says this is against the law because it constitutes a separate residence. There would be one person in the small house and two persons in the shop. Now if she is kicked out they would be homeless, which I will not allow. this above article says we need to offer a solution to homelessness but if we do we have to violate the county code.

    The house next to me was bought and renovated to have five bedrooms with five baths and is an airbnb type of thing. This is all on one septic system the old style which was grandfathered in. Somehow this is ok with the county. There are no full time rentals or housing there. There are three of these type of multi room air Bnb in the same area. All are short time rentals. So how is this fair. You can’t let your daughter live in the garage but you can buy up all the rental properties and rent out to short time tourist. All homelessness in my opinion has to do with zoning and lack of available land to build on. So let the homeless live on your streets Bend for you reap what you sow.

      1. Nobody will do anything about it unless the neighbors complain. Moral of the story is don’t piss off the neighbors be you homeless or owner. #2, build everything according to fire and life safety codes.

    1. The government always gets theirs. The government does what is in the best interest of the government. There are solutions, but when there aren’t any problems bureaucrats have nothing to justify their jobs or paychecks.

    2. Easy explanation. If you’re rich in this country, you pay no taxes and get your own set of rules. If you’re poor in this country, you also pay no taxes and and a special set of rules. If you’re middle class, you pay nearly half of your income in taxes (if not more) to compensate for the others who pay no taxes, and also for the salaries of the idiots who make the rules that only you need to follow. It’s great to be rich, a pretty good deal to be poor these days and soul-crushing to be in the middle.

  6. Let’s gouge all the homeless a one way ticket to go camp on the streets and lawns of the legislators that are supporting this idiocy. The jobs program gave all those in poverty a government job and paid them. Now our idiot leaders have decided that’s unfair so they all just need to be supported on our dime. Oregon has completely lost its mind. The rest of the country is laughing at us and the rest of the world is laughing at our country. Welcome to the demise f the US as the worlds greatest country

    1. Are you suggesting that “[…] the rest of the world is laughing at our country” because of America’s humane treatment of our citizens?

  7. Frogs Eye: Yes, I was able to pay rent at age 23 because I HAD A JOB. And yes, what is so wrong with having a roommate? Sometimes I did, but not always. And yes, there is something called A SAVINGS ACCOUNT that one uses for putting down a deposit. As for his journey, he attended the same high school I did which has everything you could hope for in providing a good education. As for college, he attended University of Oregon. He wants to come off as a “victim of society”. As for family life, who knows, as several of us had less than ideal parent(s) but we CHOSE to not wallow in being a victim and to RISE ABOVE the childhood trauma. And as for many are vets, you are a fool to believe that.

  8. Frogs Eye: He was 22, not 23. Investigation revealed the fire was deliberate. Caused ONE MILLION DOLLARS in damage to the business owner plus all the people that had used the storage facility. So please, no more excuses for these kinds of people and their behaviors.

  9. For the first time, a light went on in my mind. I have been retired for almost 20 years, live in a nice one-bedroom Bend apartment. But, my rent has more than doubled in the past six years. Yes, I am was dumb in 2011 when I actually could have afforded to buy a house here, but I missed that boat. I had thought of buying a coach and living out of it, kind of a vagabond, homeless-by-choice, lifestyle. As this trend towards providing essentially free trailer parking throughout the country grows, I am actually semi-seriously considering it. I just calculated that one year’s rent would pay for a pretty decent 24′ trailer that I could tow behind my SUV. HMMMM?

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