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New ‘Bend Humanity Coalition’ pressing city to do more to remove homeless from public lands

(Update: Adding video, poll)

'Bend does not need to become like Portland, Seattle or San Francisco,' ex-mayor says

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new nonprofit calling itself the Bend Humanity Coalition announced Friday that it will press city councilors and officials to remove homeless camps from public property and discourage such campsites by any legal means of enforcement necessary, for the safety of those residing there and the community at large.

The organization said in a news release that it "plans to work toward a more humane, safe and responsible approach to homelessness." It said the group formed in the wake of the deaths, over the summer, of two men living in a homeless camp on Hunnell Road in Bend.

“It is inhumane and unsafe to encourage people to live on the streets and other public property in Bend,” said attorney Jeff Eager, a former city councilor and mayor serving as a consultant to the coalition.

“The Bend Humanity Coalition exists to demonstrate to city leaders that these camps are unacceptable to our community; that it is not ‘welcoming’ to our neighbors experiencing homelessness to create an environment in which they perish on our streets; that homeless camps, while most dangerous to those who live in them, also create risks to surrounding property owners and residents and reflect poorly on our community.”

The Bend Humanity Coalition said it will begin reaching out to community members inviting them to provide input on homelessness issues to the Bend City Council and other relevant governing bodies.

"This approach will focus on the need for the constitutionally compliant enforcement of existing laws and ordinances discouraging camping and other dangerous activities on public property to accompany the Bend community’s unprecedented investment in services and alternative sleeping arrangements for people experiencing homelessness," the announcement said.

Eager added, “Bend does not need to become like Portland, Seattle or San Francisco, with a large, permanent homeless population sleeping and dying on public property. We have a choice about whether we as a community will tolerate and condone unsafe homeless camps. The Bend Humanity Coalition exists to give the broader Bend community a voice to impact that decision for the benefit of our neighbors experiencing homelessness and everyone else in our remarkable, compassionate community.”

A letter the group is urging residents to send to city councilors reads, in part:

"There are legal limits to what the city can do to remove homeless camps. That is not an excuse to do nothing. The city does no one, least of all people experiencing homelessness, a favor by encouraging and facilitating camping on city property. Instead, the city should use the considerable legal authority at its disposal to make clear that camping on city property is unsafe and unlawful, and to steer people experiencing homelessness toward services and living spaces that are more humane and more safe."

On another page of the website, the group states:

"The provision of services and housing options must be accompanied by a fair and loving but resolute enforcement of the law. City Councilors have at their disposal the legal methods to remove camps that pose a danger to those living in them and those who find themselves near them. There are laws against littering, public urination and defecation, public intoxication and drug use. When those activities occur, whether in homeless camps or elsewhere, the city must enforce them. We cannot allow our streets to become the site of chronic lawlessness. We’ve seen how that ends up in other cities. No one wants that for Bend."

(Oregon has no law against public intoxication, and local governments are prohibited from passing such laws.)

The Bend Humanity Coalition said more information can be found at the organization’s website: www.bendhumanitycoalition.org.

The coalition's formation comes amid a controversy over the city's proposed managed campsite near two northeast Bend schools, after the city's earlier removal of a homeless camp of vehicles parked along NE Emerson Avenue. A similar dispute arose last year over a similar city proposal at the city-owned Juniper Ridge property, an idea that was later shelved.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature passed and Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation that curbs camping regulations and protects homeless campers on public spaces.

House Bill 3115 says any city or county law must be "objectively reasonable as to time, place and manner" if it regulates "sitting, lying, sleeping or keeping warm and dry outdoors on public property." It mandates that cities pass ordinances to protect people from fines and fees for camping on public lands, if the local government isn't providing adequate viable alternatives.

The new state law followed a 2018 U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the case Martin v. Boise that barred governments from criminalizing living in public spaces if local governments aren't providing enough shelter beds for each homeless person.

Eager acknowledged to NewsChannel 21 that he's not privy to the legal advice city attorneys have given staff and councilors on the issue and the legal limitations on their actions. And he said the new state law appears to codify the 9th Circuit ruling.

"It’s true that the Boise decision does restrain cities in the 9th Circuit from some enforcement measures," he said. "Our point is that it doesn’t preclude all."

As for the city's proposed managed camps, still in the early stages, Eager said, "At least at this point, we don't intend to establish a position on them."

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

Comments

85 Comments

  1. The compassionate “heave ho! ”
    Followed by the delicate kick administered to the seat of the pants?
    They’ll find any law that they can use to protect/ raise property values, even if The Bend Humanity Coalition has to ride around on horseback with a lasso, themselves.

    “There are laws against littering, public urination and defecation, public intoxication and drug use. ”

    You do know what the tourists do downtown any night of the week? Don’t ya?

    1. You probably should go back to school to learn to READ the article before you blab. The article clearly states “Oregon has NO law against public intoxication…”

    2. “You do know what the tourists do downtown any night of the week? Don’t ya?”

      Umm, bring in lots of revenue for the city, the businesses in the city, and the people employed by the city and those businesses? Or was there some other point you were trying to make?

  2. I’m curious. Does being homeless make it ok to live like pigs and leave garbage everywhere? What is the excuse for that? I would be more inclined to support these camps if they weren’t freaking pig sty‘s
    Where did these people get all the materials there scrounging up? There’s somebody who has like 300 bicycles in front of their camp. how is that even possible in bend without stealing half of it? Do we have a problem with people throwing bicycles into ditches in this town?

      1. @Fed up local, nice backhanded insult. Let’s go one step further, have you been on the Warm Springs Reservation? Just pull up Google Earth and look around.

    1. You forgot to mention the stacks and stacks of tires and old doors and just about any other piece of junk you can think of. My question is, Why??? Why do they need all that worthless junk?

          1. The bum camps on ODT’s off ramps are growing weekly. The Revere exit off the parkway is now as trashed as the Burnside off ramps in Portland. Once these camps are allowed to proliferate they never go away. Portland, Eugene, Seattle, LA etc. have been accommodating these camps for over a decade and have reached a point to where they are now part of the permanent identity of these cities. So now we can include our town, words out in the vagrant world Bend Oregon is an easy mark.

      1. I’d say walking half a block to the dumpsters on Hunnel Road amd putting it in the tax payer funded dumpster would be a good start. If they ha e the ability to stack totes and doors all over the street, certainly they can dispose of their junk. If they can’t do that, they should get nothing

    2. couldnt agree more. its certainly one thing to park your motor home on the side of the road but hoarding all kinds of wood, furniture, bikes, etc.etc.etc. is completely something else. these folks do not need to be bringing in all the junk. its hard to have compassion when most of these folks have zero respect.

  3. The only “humane” way to deal with homelessness is to give people a home. But no one wants to do that because that costs money.

    These folks should be ashamed of themselves for trying to pass their group off as anything other than what it is. A citizen’s group that is concerned only with raising the value of its property.

    1. If something is not done by the citizenry to deal with homeless camps, mother nature will force some sort of action, and the consequences will be brutal.

      If you moved here in the last five years, you have not experienced 10 days to two weeks of below zero weather. Those who refuse to shelter where they have to conform to rules will die.

      People will die.

        1. Scrooge-“Are there no prisons?”
          “Plenty of prisons…”
          Scrooge-“And the Union workhouses.” . “Are they still in operation?”
          “Both very busy, sir…”
          “Those who are badly off must go there.”
          “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
          Scrooge- “If they would rather die,” “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

        2. I understand you have a great deal of compassion for homeless people, and I continue to resent the implication that my stance, which you do not agree with, is less righteous and callous. You are not the good guy and I am not the bad guy.

          Start, to begin with, by not encouraging homeless people from other areas.
          As far as saying they are “Oregon Residents” it takes 45 days to qualify and to apply for the Oregon Health Plan and other public benefits…

          Look at places that have had success…Salt Lake City, for example, has had much more success than any other west coast city.

          Deal with the root causes of homelessness, not the symptoms. Substance abuse, mental health issues, (and the internal loop of both). The Veterans Administration has done an abysmal, perhaps criminally negligent job of addressing the needs of our veterans. Care for those who need it, do not tolerate those who are here to take advantage of other peoples’ compassion.

          Ben Franklin: “The best way to help a man in poverty is to make him uncomfortable in his poverty. Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes it.”

          Those who cannot care for themselves should be cared for, those who can, but choose not care for themselves should face uncomfortable consequences for their poor choices.

          Those who can, but will not, care for themselves may find themselves in uncomfortable situations.

          Obviously, the solution will not come from the Federal Government. The Disabled American Veterans and IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America)have had much more success with a fraction of the resources of the V.A.

          Churches have had success.

          So my answer to your question is, look for what works, there are places that have successfully dealt with this problem. Easy answers? yes. Easy implementation, no.
          People should be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. Those who choose to not respond and take advantage of compassion should not be treated with cruelty, but should experience uncomfortable consequences for their poor choices.

          1. I in no way meant any disparagement by asking that question, sorry! I really was curious.
            But I would just disagree about them being “easy answers,” or that we’re “encouraging” homeless to move here. Reminds me of those who think we are growing because of Visit Bend ads, rather than because of word of mouth, the mountains, the rivers, the natural beauty etc.
            Dealing with those root causes is not cheap, or easy, or guaranteed success.
            But also, judging who is “worthy” of help and who is not is fraught with challenges and judgment calls everyone can and will second-guess.
            But I appreciate the answer very much.

            1. “Encouraging” is indeed the incorrect word. “Incentivizing” is more accurate, owing to the decriminalization of hard drugs, lax enforcement of property crimes and an overall stubborn resistance to enforce nearly any laws on the unhoused in our fair state. There is nothing inhumane about holding everyone accountable to abide by the same set of laws and rules — regardless of race, privilege or housing status. It shouldn’t be a crime to be homeless. But if the homeless violate the laws of where they live, it’s not unreasonable to subject them to the same penalties as anyone else. What’s happening in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco is absurd and there’s a screw loose in your head if you think that’s acceptable.

          2. “The Veterans Administration has done an abysmal, perhaps criminally negligent job of addressing the needs of our veterans”. Where in heii are you getting your information? The veterans administration is doing a phenomenal job. I am grateful every day for the VA. Of course they’re not going to help a veteran with a dishonorable discharge, or someone who is really not a veteran (stolen valor). I appreciate everything the VA does so much I even volunteer to help them out. The VA is an outstanding organization, and I will defend them to the end.

          3. Most intelligent post here. However, I do not want “their” uncomfortable consequences for their poor choices in my back yard or anyone back yard. This is the problem. Everyone is NIMBY and I don’t blame them a bit. It is human nature that we take care of our own first. We are not selfish, but human also.

        3. The crux of this issue is the majority of the “homeless” have no desire to live off the streets. They like it. Mental illness plays huge role because most of these folks are off their meds. And they are off their meds because they dont like them. How about some in depth reporting on that angle? Maybe some undercover work for one of your cubs!

              1. We’ve talked to them for stories, of course. That’s anecdotal. To say “most” don’t or do want this or that is a claimed statistic. And surveys are flawed, too, of course. (They are what people say, not always true – and not always complete)

                1. Then how do we define and measure the challenge? Seems to me this group at least has a path forward. I know you have been to Shaniko, I saw you there years ago. Resources are limited for all. We have things happening on the Columbia that would scare everyone on Hummel road right back to Hummel road! Alcohal/drugs and Mental disease are a hard nut to crack, maybe we can agree on that!

                2. I’ve been living in my truck for 2 years. I was at the end of hunnell road for 1yr. I shower at the gym daily, don’t leave any trash behind, and I work 60hrs a week. I still can’t afford a home here again and I’ve been here for most my life. I’m proof that you can be homeless with a goal of not and you don’t need trash, violence, drugs, and drama to draw attention. The ones on hunnell road and at other places have no respect for themselves or others and are being enabled by the local snowflakes which is why it won’t change.

          1. – working hard for money and worshiping it are two different things – functional adults don’t worship money – don’t try to compare what you do to what i do, you will lose

    2. The amount of funding allocated each year to assist the residentially challenged could have purchased each of them a home. The problem is that the bureaucracies that receive the funding each take their share for their expenses and paychecks and when it finally gets to actually assisting the residentially challenged there is little left. Some might say that that is a bit over generalized. However overgeneralizing does reduce the validity so it’s still true.

      1. – “Some might say that that is a bit over generalized” – some might say that that is a completely unsubstantiated, specious whopper, but don’t let that stop you – it never has in the past –

        – maybe the next time you cut and paste something in an attempt to sound lucid, have someone proof read it before you post it – reread what you have posted – even if there was any viable content in it at all, do you believe that the last sentence makes any sense whatsoever?

  4. “New ‘Bend Humanity Coalition’ pressing city to do more to remove homeless from public lands”

    – OK, there is so much there…. we have become a nation of double speak

    1. No telling where he sent them, one story said Houston and some were put on jets to go wherever they want. But if you listen to big red/ peppermint Patty the immigrants don’t intend to stay so vaccinating them doesn’t apply. Makes less sense then being on a teeter totter at 3 am in a wedding dresses with a mime during a blizzard.♨️

  5. Unfortunately if you gave most of these people a home it would be run down or ruined in no time. Some of these people will say they want off the streets but they need to be willing to make an effort to stay off the street, many are not. Then the political hacks keep telling them they are the victims and off them supposed addiction treatment which tells them they have a disease and are not responsible for their actions. We decriminalize most drugs and most crimes as well while telling people they are not responsible for what they do. How can we expect people who love to get high/drunk to pay rent, show up on time at a job or manage the resources given to them when they have been told over and over again they are not responsible for their actions? Jail was always a good deterrent for people breaking laws and kind of forced people to clean up their act and

    1. Sad, but true. As for the homeless that are currently working, but truly can’t afford housing I would support so.e type of assistance. They have to contribute to society, pay their taxes in order to be eligible. There is some percentage that want to provide for themselves.

  6. Ktvz can you please correct paragraph 10 where it inaccurately says there is a law against public intoxication, when in fact such laws are banned by the oregon constitution

      1. I’sure Eager knows the law better than someone from North LaPine and KTVZ. He can rely on the below just as the cops do now. Drunk Vagrants go to jail! And homeless are vagrants by definition!

        from ORS 430.402
        (b)Public drinking, except as to places where any consumption of alcoholic beverages is generally prohibited.

        ORS 430.325
        City ordinance prohibiting drinking alcohol in public places is not preempted by this section. State v. Uroza-Zuniga, 287 Or App 214, 402 P3d 772 (2017)

        Atty. Gen. Opinions
        Drunkenness as element of crime of disorderly conduct, breach of peace or vagrancy, (1975) Vol 37, p 647

        §§ 430.260 to 430.425
        Atty. Gen. Opinions
        Authorized contracts and expenditures, (1977) Vol 38, p 1618

        1. Actually, we found evidence to buttress that view of public intoxication law.
          https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_430.402
          “A political subdivision in this state shall not adopt or enforce any local law or regulation that makes any of the following an offense, a violation or the subject of criminal or civil penalties or sanctions of any kind:
          (a)Public intoxication.”
          Jeff’s response: “They’re right, except that it’s an Oregon statute, not the constitution, that says so. We are changing that section of the website to address open alcohol container laws, which are permissible and on the books in Bend, rather than public intoxication. Thanks for passing that along.”

          1. For folks’ info: I never said we’d not allow any personal attacks, I said “offensive” personal attacks, which is a judgment call. This is fairly mild, far milder than ones aimed at the governor or president, for example, so…

  7. I had the opportunity to travel throughout the West this past summer and a question occurred to me while in a diner in a small rural town that was filled with ranchers and mill workers on their lunch break. What is it that attracts the homeless to larger cities and “progressive” towns, and not these smaller communities? Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any tents, blue tarps or dilapidated RVs on the streets or parks of these towns, or folks panhandling at intersections.

  8. What a stark contrast in leadership. It’s interesting to see the views of the former mayor vs the current administration. The former Mayor helped make Bend the place all you California locusts wanted to move to. The current administration is turning Bend into a homeless encampment. I’m not sure which is worse. On the overall, I suppose I prefer a clean and healthy overrunning to a filthy diseased one. It’s good to see a group standing up for the public that pays the bills, as opposed to the groups that want to milk the responsible bill payers dry, while feeding others addictions and trashing the public’s lands.

  9. So, in reading these comments, I was truly hoping that I would find people talking about the proposed Homeless Villages that are being proposed and pushed by our City Council. 9th Street location (in between 2 schools) and the Southern entrance to Bend locations (Next to Les Schwab) and fully visible to all commuters coming into Bend. Does anyone have any reaction to this? The City has $2 +/- Million dollars and they are deciding to used the money for additional homeless camps? TEMPORARY Homeless Camps/Villages. Instead of focusing efforts into expanding current and proven shelters that work in Bend or at the very least drug/alcohol/mental shelters, City Council are going to add “Temporary” outdoor Homeless Villages. Shelters will be…..”Monitored”, No Drugs or Alcohol allowed, Gated and controlled by the residents…..Residents will be vetted? Sounds great right? Perfect solution right? The homeless will flock to these sites because of the opportunity right? Will welcome rules and regulations right? Will help the masses of homeless right? WRONNG. $2 Million dollars will help approx. 40 homeless individuals out of approx. 1,500 in Bend. If those who are not allowed into these Villages due to the vetting process or those who might get kicked out due to drugs or alcohol….is there another place they will go?, I don’t think so, people will go back to their original location. I might sound horrible, but we have a issue here in Bend that requires logic and intelligence to fix. Anger and complaining does nothing. Most of the comments that I have been reading here on this forum are of anger or frustration or simply a generalizing the homeless into one group of rejects. This is not the case. I believe the City Council is basically doing the same. They are generalizing that the homeless will want this type of housing (outdoor Villages) that comes with rules, etc. We need to figure out the different groups homeless here in Bend. ly understand the various groups of homeless? I am not sure. I have seen no proof of this. Usig the words “They” and “Those” are not helpful. I believe (without facts to be honest) that Most of our homeless who really want to be helped have found the organizations or friends/family who can or are trying to help in some way. Not all of course. There are some good people on our Streets that need support from the Community and we should give that support. So what to do. I don’t have a answer and wont pretend to have a answer, but the City Council themselves that all said they have no answers either and are “learning as we (the public) are learning”. SO, my final questions. The our City Council (Don’t forget the Mayor) is unsure and still learning…….Why are they pushing these two sites for the low barrier homeless villages? In addition, why is the City Council pushing these “Villages” into the “older” communities of Bend? I find that interesting. We have asked the City Council to submit a site plan for other possible locations……Crickets!!!! We have asked for a public Q and A….crickets. Maybe our news needs to push for for facts and information from our City Council/Mayor. This forum is great, but how many people have engaged here….No that many. Thank you. One more thing, the City will NOT be monitoring these sites, the City will be hiring a 3rd party non-profit to do this. Ok, fine, how much will that cost monthly? I heard on Nextdoor this morning that tent shelters in San Francisco range around $5k/mo. Not sure. But that would not surprise me….. I encourage people to start asking questions……There is no simple answer to our problem. It has to be Community involvement. How many people are willing to be involved? My guess, not nearly enough.

  10. To My Own Mind: Would love to see you be part of the Management of the proposed Village Camps. Your Life experiences (I am truly assuming) could be a huge benefit in helping other. Thank you for your comment.

    MyOwnMind says:
    September 24, 2021 at 9:09 PM
    I’ve been living in my truck for 2 years. I was at the end of hunnell road for 1yr. I shower at the gym daily, don’t leave any trash behind, and I work 60hrs a week. I still can’t afford a home here again and I’ve been here for most my life. I’m proof that you can be homeless with a goal of not and you don’t need trash, violence, drugs, and drama to draw attention. The ones on hunnell road and at other places have no respect for themselves or others and are being enabled by the local snowflakes which is why it won’t change.

  11. These folks are gathering current data; meeting and talking with key players and true subject matter experts; and taking the time / making the effort to get it right.

  12. Until there is a viable solution, this not humane. What is a human life worth? I’m guessing no one in the nonprofit has ever experienced homelessness. You can’t be an expert in things you do not know or understand. Where the homeless people camp now is a direct result of other poor decisions made by those who are ignorant and greedy.

  13. Yet there is always money for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens every month. Who do our overlords care more about? Homeless Americans or illegal aliens?

  14. Some homeless are homeless by choice. Some are not. Severely mentally disabled people are not there by choice. We should take care of them. Those that are marginally disabled by mental illness should be assisted at some level.

    Drug and alcohol addicts became homeless by choice and will remain that way until they decide to take care of themselves. We should help those that want to help themselves.

    The rest are homeless by their own choice. They should get a job and a place to live or go somewhere else. Portland, Salem, Eugene are all options. Freeloaders, panhandlers, and lazy dishonest people are not welcome to commandeer our public spaces.

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