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Bend plans removal of ‘unsafe’ NE Bend homeless campsite, but advocates ask where they will go

(Update: Adding video, comments from Family Kitchen, Deschutes County Health, homeless resident.)

'Displacing anyone, no matter how recently they've found a place that they can call home, is absolutely not preferred.'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new city of Bend policy to remove "unsafe" homeless campsites on city rights of way is raising questions from some homeless service providers about the fate of those living at the first chosen location.

The new city homeless campsite policy, designed to determined whether camps on rights of way are unsafe, was passed by the city council unanimously Wednesday night.

"I think we have to have a policy. I think this body needs to create what this policy says,” City Councilor Anthony Broadman said at the meeting.

The homeless camp on Northeast Emerson Avenue near Second Street is the first site the city will focus on. It has nearly 40 tents and makeshift structures.

City Manager Eric King told NewsChannel 21, "The notice to the social service providers allowing them to work with camp residents will occur on Monday, June 7th, which will allow for a two-week engagement period prior to any camp closure."

Logan Colbert, a resident of the camp, has been living on the streets since he was a child.

He said there are occasional bad actors, but most of the people living on Emerson are good people.

"No major trouble here, no crimes against people or anything,” Colbert said. “So I don't understand what the problem is with this one little block around here."

But an impact analysis done by Bend police show 41 calls for service between April and June 1. It cites issues of safety, crime, trash and waste.

Donna Burklo, program director with Family Kitchen, regularly assists people living in that area, and thinks moving people out without a plan for a new place to live is not the way to go.

"Displacing anyone, no matter how recently they've found a place that they can call home, is absolutely not preferred,” Burklo said.

She said if they are removed, there is currently no long-term plan for the residents. 

"They will go to other places that they either have known in the past, or new places that they hear about. It's not as if they disappear,” Burklo said.

Colleen Thomas, homeless services coordinator at Deschutes County Behavioral Health, agrees.

"These are humans, and everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” Thomas said. 

Both representatives said their main issue with removal of the camp is there's just not enough places for people to go. 

Burklo told NewsChannel 21 when they go around to different homeless camps, they provide a one-sheet community resource guide with shelters and food and outreach services.

She said the small organizations help, but are just not enough.

Colbert said, "That's why I want to know, where these people are going? Where are they going to go to sleep now? If all these people are cleared out now, these young guys, these guys that are sitting here behind me, these guys got nowhere to go.” 

Thomas says she understands the need for some action and that communication with the city has been great, but feels there needs to be a permanent solution.

"It's really unfortunate, we're pushing people away from where they really feel like they belong,” Thomas said.

Central Oregon / Government-politics / Local News / News / Top Stories
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Noah Chast

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

Comments

108 Comments

  1. reminds me of the “camp” I heard about in Seattle a while back that the tents were pushed so far out into the street that some of the traffic was running over the corners of the tents.

          1. Yes ^^ you got that right. Sad that Milton Freidman, whose ideas destroyed so many lives while helping create the 1% and huge wealth disparities.

  2. some of the people in those tents refuse to go to the shelter and rather be behind bars than go there. throwing their waste onto the car lot shows how little respect they have for common decency, its a good sign the city hasnt put a dumpster at end of the street for them to put their garbage in. Just wonder what would happen if we had a bad winter and a car slid off on the ice into one of the tents good luck with this problem though

    1. Where will they go? They are literally camped right by the shelter over by bimart! The shelter is open now! They can go there! But wait, they only have a cot and even being low barrier, they can’t lay in that cot and smoke meth and do drugs! They might have expectations made of them! They want their free campsite with the ability to do what they want.

    1. That’s the answer? Remove the city council and mayor? Then what, homelessness goes away overnight? Your mental immune system is weak.

      1. Removing the mayor and city council would be a start! Do you remember having a homeless problem this serious 3,4 or 5 years ago? Of course not, our mayor and council tolerate this behavior! Here’s the answer. There are plenty of jobs available, $25/hr housekeeping in Sunriver comes to mind, get a job or get out of town. If homeless people were really trying to get on their feet, there’s help available. Most of the people we see are making a decision to live this way.

        1. Who are you going to force to hire people who have so little control over themselves and their lives that they have to beg to eat?
          Sheesh. I want employees who can handle themselves in the real world not damaged goods that will cost me money in the long run.

    2. I totally agree, jdn3233, but so many bleeding heart libs have moved to central Oregon in the last few years those people were voted in.

  3. Its a crisis decades of pro-business quietly-conservative local government brought us, so it will be interesting to see if our newly elected more liberal local bodies can actually play bad cop on this issue when they really don’t want it

    1. Hahaha….it’s a crisis fueled by meth and heroin, has nothing to do with business. Go ask any one of the people camping why they are homeless, not one will say its because of pro business conservatives or high rent. You are so stupid mouse. You liberals feed these people heroin and meth daily with your lax drug policies, and wonder why there are so many drug addicts living in the streets. You are as stupid as you sound.

      1. Hard drugs are part of it, so are high housing costs, both situations are the direct result of republican social policies since the 70s, only now beginning to be fixed

        1. Anon- you really should take the blinders off. You mean this wasn’t Trump’s fault? LOL. No, but the republicans from the 70’s…hahaha. You are dumb. The democrats in oregon literally make it a slap on the wrist for heroine and meth, you fool. You somehow spin it to the republicans of the 70’s, my gawd.

        2. Utter nonsense. What is your source of information for what you assert? I was born and raised in Oregon, way before many of the young folks who comment here were even a twinkle in their parent’s eyes, and I have personally witnessed the increase of real estate costs, and other housing costs with the advent of the increase of out of state transplants, especially Californians. The majority of the council here in Bend are liberals from California who have brought their liberal policies with them. They have destroyed their own state, and now they are here to do the same to Oregon. I have lived in Bend for over 60+ years, and I have never witnessed the pandemic homelessness in Oregon and in Bend, that I am witnessing now. Yes, there has always been homelessness but not to the degree there is now, and the irony is, that many of the homeless are young able bodied people who lament that they cannot find a job, yet many employers in Bend cannot find enough people to fill work positions. They could use these jobs as a stepping stone to improve their situations, possibly further their education, but they choose to be dependent on what handouts or free stuff they can get. As the old saying goes. ” give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

          It is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).

          1. With all the construction and new developments going in, the homeless will be pushed out into the open for people to see. The band aid is getting peeled off and it wont be so easy to ignore when that “one little block” turns into whole neighborhoods. Its been quietly getting worse and relaxed laws regarding drug use arent helping the problem.

          2. Love you reply, RossRoldark. Excellent. Did you hear one of the homeless men who were interviewed on camera last evening say that he had “lived on the streets since I was a child [kid]” and that the homeless around here aren’t “bad people or dangerous” and “what’s wrong with us just living on the street? It is just one or two streets…” and basically that WE THE PEOPLE who actually WORK for a living should just leave the homeless alone. “They” are fine without us. SURE………..

  4. This is exactly where visit bends sustainability fund should be going, if nothing else so that tourists can safely drop their green bags after partying all weekend, also china hat and good dog jesus

  5. I’m pretty sure a Hooker Creek rental would solve the problem quicker and cheaper than any of this feel good garbage. The fact this is tolerated shows just how disconnected our government is from reality.

  6. I just do not understand why the city always mentions needing to “find somewhere else for them to go”? Why on earth does that have to be the city’s ( our) problem. If I stopped paying my mortgage and get evicted is it the banks responsibility to find me somewhere to go?

      1. Barney you keep touting this. Has the second amendment or Heller vs DC. been so much as a speed-bump to continued anti gun legislation? One is a supreme court decision, and the other is in the US Constitution. The homeless case is from the most overturned court in the land. This is purely a lack of will.

          1. Simply charge them with something else. Although, that is kicking the can down the road. I would suggest all cities in the West bus their homeless to DC. The only way this will be solved is with a national policy.

      2. There is a large fenced area behind the new year round Shepherd’s Inn that will accommodate a good number of tents; there is the parking lot at Bethlehem Inn where a perfectly usable former motel resided that can accolade tent dwellers. There is a motel on 97 that is easily my converted to a shelter setting , tho the city can’t figure out how to change locks in the door (that is a turnkey operation if ever one presented itself.(. So there are options, but the city council is being driven on this issue by the professional homeless advocates whose paycheck is driven by continued to have this issue grow. And there are those like the guy in the story who has CHOSEN to live on the street since childhood. So yes, there are options and the city can begin clearing out this unsafe living sites.

  7. Why doesn’t the city just incorporate as a free range mental hospital and figure out the billing codes for our patients? Free range mental hospitals are uniquely American and why we’re great so Medicare and Medicaid should know how to reimburse us.

  8. There are camps all across the west coast. High cost of living, housing shortages, and minimal access to mental health services, showers, mailing services, refrigeration for food, safe storage,, transportation, laundry services, and garbage/waste disposal. We have better options for homeless pets than people. Bless their hearts. Many people experiencing homelessness work too, but they often don’t live in these camps. Too embarrassing. They are not all the same and many don’t want to be seen. We need to stop demonizing people for being homeless. That’s punishment enough for any moral failure, should one exist.

  9. We likely spend far more on emergency services on many of these folks (cannot be turned away in ER) than it would cost to create constructive interventions. I hope we consider that 1% of the population owns 90% of the world’s wealth. Let’s stop criticizing our most vulnerable and start asking questions about the moral failures of the 1%. Just a thought. Why are we arguing over how the little leftover should be allocated for the poorest among us and start asking why the 1% isn’t creating solutions to community problems.

    1. Anyone can be part of the 1% if they are motivated enough to work their arse off to attain it. For many of us, it is not handed to us on a silver platter.

  10. Hilarious. Living on the street since he was a kid. But according to the parasites on the City Council, it’s because of housing costs.

      1. City Manager Erik King? Appointed by the council. Serves at their pleasure. But, his views do not reflect how they think the city should be managed. And do you believe everything you’ve heard. Of course.

      1. YES – I agree, RossPoldark with you and sagerat and KateClown and several others on here. We who have lived here for many years – who have worked here and paid taxes and kept the Bend area SAFE and CLEAN are becoming in the minority, it seems, and a lot of it is due to too many not VOTING to keep the Progressives and Liberals and open-the-borders Democrats out of offices throughout Oregon. WE are the ones paying through the nose as the little Dictator in our Governor’s seat forces us to pay more and more and get nothing in return. Oregon is in a sad place as little Katie Brownshirt tries again and again to outdo California (literally “be the first…) to do more ridiculous, expensive things that have been and will be absolute boondoggles. SAD. Disgusting.

  11. There are people who get displaced because of immediate circumstances. Then there are people who don’t want or have the ability because of their habits and we can’t support them. We can’t work hard all day just to see our city turn to garbage and drug camps. We didn’t all have the easy street either. It’s choices. Do meth today and drink all day and don’t show up for work or life so everyone loses trust in me. Or… contribute to society and get a better life. Oh and none of these people will benefit from low income housing. You actually have to get a job for that.

      1. When you say “…personal accountability which does not seem to be something liberals understand.”
        You have to ignore the personal politics of those people who are camping out. I spent years driving past the people on hunell rd. and interacting with them around the Grandview area. They are not a monolithic block of liberals. They look and act a lot more Duck Commander than liberal squish.

  12. “Bend plans removal of ‘unsafe’ NE Bend homeless campsite, but advocates ask where they will go”

    How about sending them back to the state they came from, and the rest have a choice, go to a homeless shelter or leave the county. Plane and simple. You keep coddling these people and the problem only gets worse. But hey.. that’s the Demoncrat way. Just keep adding fuel to the fire until it all burns down. As long as the Demoncrat politicians keep getting their paychecks and can give themselves a raise because they want more money why should they care what happens. It’s the Demoncrat way.

    1. Freedom of Choice. Well said. Keeping people dependent on the government has always been the democratic way. It is called job security for the democratic politicians.

      1. “Keeping people dependent on the government has always been the democratic way. It is called job security for the democratic politicians.”

        It’s funny you say that. When I was in college in the mid 90’s my sociology instructor said the very same thing almost verbatim as well him telling us about the constent use of hand sanitizers and how that hinders or out right prevents your own immune system from protecting you. Ironically, he was a licensed MD.

        The simple definition of a Demoncrat: As long we give away free stuff we will always get more votes. That’s all they care about and nothing more. The only political party that will always pull the race card out to get what they want when they know they will loose. Outside of rigging the voting system. A sad and pathetic party. The Demoncrats always had slavery in their back pockets until they lost the Civil War ans they are still trying to hold on to that agenda.

  13. Ok bleeding hearts, why dont you take a few in? Better yet, contact Luke Richter, Mike Satcher, Cat DeGreat, Kerstin Arias, Josie Stanfield, Adrianna Aquarius, Morgan Schmidt(1st Presbyterian Church Church) and the Central Oregon Peacekeepers, Central Oregon Diversity Project, Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly, Mecca, Central Oregon Socialist Party and the rest of the left wing kooks in C.O. and see how many they can take in.

    1. Lmonteslim Oh if only. Oh to dream to dream. I have a friend who is a socialist here in Bend and she lives alone in a huge home, but when I ask her to offer up her home or share her property with the homeless, she quickly tries to change the topic. Like many liberals she prefers to have someone else do it. Liberals like donating money for their causes as long as it is someone else’s money.

      1. Spot on! Kudos to you! I have a liberal family member from a family of republicans (talk about awkward) who was telling me he was all for a living minimum wage. When I asked him why, he said that you can’t afford to live in Seattle on the current minimum wage. I laughed to myself because I had to leave my friends and family and move to La Pine because I couldn’t afford to live in LA anymore. I’m better off here (way south of Bend) than I was there and I’m surrounded by my fellow conservatives. I hope we can hold our ground here, but the way the Demoncrats lie, cheat, and steel elections, it’s becoming a daunting and challenging task. We conservatives need to stick together and put this country back into the black. (Oops, was that a racist remark because I used the word… black?) Ha, ha, ha.

  14. Empathy, compassion, and financial assistance for the homeless is both humane and necessary. In exchange, there needs to be local control as to where people camp to keep chaos from occurring. Transportation, sanitation, safety, and proximity to assistance programs are the minimum requirements that need to be met.

    1. That sounds great! How about you pay for those services because I’m on a fixed income, can’t afford the added taxes and I don’t get anything for free, so why should they?

  15. When Bend was a lumber town ridiculed by our social better West of the cascades we had no homeless camps. The “old mill” was the mill and everyone had jobs. Welcome to democrat rule. Notice they arent living in democrat progressive houses.

  16. “Where will they go?” That, my friends, is a typical and expected response. I just watched World Evening News and it showed people living in tents DUE to their homes bombed and destroyed in Syria.
    In America, especially the West Coast, people live in tents because they are allowed to. It’s BS about affordable housing. And yet we have people that feel the need to protect them as if they are bomb refugees. They are not. They are people who don’t want responsibility. They are coming to Oregon because Oregon has earned a reputation of Live for Free Off Taxpayers, Drug Addicts Are Welcomed, Need Free Healthcare-Oregon’s Got You Taken Care. The list goes on. When actually, let’s face it. Most are junkies, they want the “free, no man controls me” lifestyle, mental illness, etc. Just look at the rest of Oregon and how so many are coming here and working on pot farms. Recently spoke to a Sheriff’s Deputy and a tow truck operator and they said people come from everywhere, work the pot farms and then abandon their POS vehicles.
    Again, Oregon is having a problem with DRUGS and CRIMINALS that are homegrown as well as from other states.
    It’s getting pretty bad when I have to ask my husband to drive me to Petsmart due to the homeless problem. A few days ago, pulling into Petsmart, a bum/junkie looking guy walked by us as we were getting ready to park with a 12-14 inch knife hanging on his belt. Are the homeless advocates okay with that also? Sorry, but I am not going to continue going to a store if that’s what is experienced.
    This madness of accepting this kind of living in tents/ behavior/ these kind of individuals has to stop.

    1. I don’t want them around either but they are not just going to just go away or magically re-enter normal society.

      A non-free “urban campground” has worked in other cities in Oregon. I feel like having them in one area would be a good idea even though that one area would be rather awful as a result.

      The best reason to provide an “urban campground” is that it would allow the city to crack down on having homeless people camping outside that area. As it is now, its silly to remove them from next to the recycling center, when there is no official area for them to go to.

      The homeless camp will just appear somewhere eles.

  17. Hey colleen Thomas, if your so “concerned”, how about you let them camp in your front or back yard. Oh you don’t want to do that, hmm that what I thought too.

  18. All these so called concerned people let the homeless camp in your back yard & you put up with the smell & trash otherwise run them out of Bend so Bend don’t look like a Dump site

  19. My question is…. Why is no one discussing using the empty field between Home Depot and lowes? It is already fenced in, was a former camp ground. Take down all the weeds and scrub and re-find the roads and RV pads in there. Large enough parcel and almost ready to house folks again. The land was for sale last time I drove by there. Buy it and put a temporary tent city there. Force everyone to relocate off public property and move there. They would NOW have somewhere to go, so no choice in the matter. How easy is that?

    1. There is no fenced field between HD and Lowe’s.
      You are thinking of the former KOA campground(how long have you lived here?) That Walmart wants to develop if only ODOT and Bend would would pay for the entire highway to be moved and the sewer to be upgraded so they could come in and crap all over it without having to spend any of their money. Socialism for billionaires.

  20. The homeless issue for Bend will never be solved until there is an adequate analysis of why each purported homeless person is homeless. There are too many incentives to be homeless in what was beautiful Bend Oregon. Free RV parking, food, and shelter. Does the reported 13% increase in homeless mean that number of existing Bend residents lost there home or that many folks decided Bend was a nice place to be homeless so they came. Homeless advocates should spend their time and money on asking “why” of each person and then advocating corrective action on the cause. More addiction treatment centers-more institutions for the mentally ill, more facilities for suffering Veterans. Ask each homeless person at least 5 “why” questions to get to the root cause, then attack that. Work on more treatment facilities, then require treatment. Stop being “advocates” only for more “free lunch”. Work on the cause not the result.

    1. If you build it they will come.

      I wonder why Burns has a lower homeless rate than Bend. Could it be less attractive to people looking for a free lunch?

      1. Burns is a poor end of the road burg with not much going for it, no one wants to live there fer chrissakes.
        Harney county homeless rate=2.6%
        Deschutes County homeless rate 3.8%
        Not much difference.

  21. This has to be solved on a national level of it will never be solved. The homeless move to areas where they can live like they want and Bend is one of those places. I would do the same if I was mentally ill and/or a drug addict who was homeless. One thing that really needs to be pointed out to many of you is this “They just need to get a job.” Those who actually work with the homeless will tell you that about 40% of them an unemployable. If you hire them they will do more damage than what you pay them. Once again this needs to be solved on a national basis. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt the people in Washington DC are interested in fixing this issue.

  22. Because I’m sure that if Trump and the Repukes were still in charge there would be no homeless, everyone would live in a nice house and have MAGA high paying jobs? While you complain and whine about liberals and everyone else then explain the last four years and how great everything was under the orange anus? Some of you are dumb enough to think he will be president again and make the pathetic Repukes whole again? Sorry Trump tools but it took time to get to this place and blaming Biden or liberals for all of it makes you look stupid. You sound like broken records and it gets old.

    1. And everyone just knew once Trump was gone Portland and Seattle & others like them would go back to quite peaceful cities. NOT! Why don’t they de fund the cops some more. And just heard that AOC wants to stop building jails. My God what is going on in this world!?!?!?

  23. This is just a bunch of elitists NIMBY’s forcing these poor folks off of their homeland.

    Where should they go? Discovery Park and Big Sky park are flat, have good parking and restrooms and water and good tent sites. And soon will be connected by protected bike paths.

  24. More mental hospitals or advocates homes. DO SOMETHING ABOUT STRONGER DRUG LAWS instead of slap on wrist. My God this doesn’t take a brain scientist

  25. Always under the guise of safety. Was it safe 2 months ago? Why did they finally decided to “do something”….

    What changed?

    Let’s see. Brooks owns the dealership, slated for future development.
    Les Schwab is going to sell their store property once they move.
    The city just backed down on converting Rainbow to a shelter after the Chamber of Commerce Objected.

    Hmmmm. Shocking that they are now making a move. Could it be……..MONEY?

  26. I think we should accept the inherit issues but also work to get solutions in place that have been working elsewhere in other cities.

    Its fine to acknowledge that many of the people have permanent issues that may make them unemployable; be it drugs, mental issues, whatever.

    What is not fine, is somehow blaming them for their own problems. It might be true, but by blaming them, it makes for an excuse not to deal with the problem. The problem is not going to solve itself.

    It doesn’t really matter WHY they don’t fit in regular society. I just don’t think anyone wants tents and garbage and questionable characters in random places around town.

    So, let’s find a place to establish an “urban campground” that is not free and is also managed by a non-profit. Somewhere away from residential areas but where its easy for the police to patrol it.

    Having something like the $35/mo tiny home project in Eugene, seems like a good way to get them out of tents too: https://www.squareonevillages.org/opportunity

  27. The problem started in Oregon long ago when our state government decided to close down the majority of the mental hospitals and turned loose hundreds of mentally ill people on the streets of Oregon. Now we also have those who have addiction issues because of lax laws concerning drugs and emptying out the prisons of drug felons and closing down the prisons. So where are these felons and mentally ill going to live with the high cost of rentals ?? The state government ran by the socialist libs who supposedly care about the poor and down trodden is a joke ! They care more about supporting illegals and free abortions ! Most of the homeless coming into Bend are from big cities that are cracking down on the homeless and giving them the boot because they no longer want to deal with the issues that they cause. They hear that the city of Bend has free food and health services and there is no need to get a job so now we have a major increase in the homeless. It’s sad that the rents are out of sight for working families that are priced out of housing and are forced to live in tents. Our city council support the high rents by not restricting the building of high priced housing that caters to the droves of transplants from Cali who are used to paying high rents instead of more low income subsidized housing. Bottom line our city and state governments are responsible for this fiasco with the homeless.

  28. In a former neighborhood, the woman down the street had her 39 adult son living in her back yard, in a tent and was never allowed to live inside. He is a junkie who impregnated a fellow junkie. The birth mother decided the welfare benefits weren’t worth keeping the baby so she gave the baby up. It’s now floating through the Oregon Foster Care program. By the time we left that neighborhood, he had built a bonfire in the backyard amongst all the tall dead weeds (in August) and then a year or so later, he passed out and set fire to the shed (in July). We did our best at ignoring him as he screamed obscenities to people, etc. The police raided the house several times. He threatened to kill us. He threatened to fight neighbors. He broke into neighbors back yards and houses. He was caught shooting up in a elderly woman’s back yard in the middle of the night, only a few feet from her bedroom exterior French door and windows. In all my life, I never felt the need to have security camera’s and a gun…..until that neighborhood. So, NO, we don’t want them in our neighborhood. Or anywhere.

  29. If the city would keep cleaning up their camps and making them move regularly then they would go back somewhere else like California or Portland where they came from.

    However I would be in favor of letting them camp on the West side of town.

  30. You said most of the homeless in Bend are coming from big cities that are sick of dealing with the problems they create. Then you say working families are living in tents. Which is it? If your living in a tent aren’t you homeless?

    And its illegal/unconstitutional for the city of Bend to “restrict” building expensive homes. Sounds like you hate freedom.

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