(Update: Adding video, comments from Bend city councilor)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend announced Monday it is seeking public input on proposed code changes that will provide options for various types of shelters to be built in most city zoning districts.
The city has published an interactive online tool that explains the proposed homeless shelter types and asks for public feedback. The tool can be found at this link and is available in English and Spanish through Nov. 1.
Shelters can provide a bridge for houseless community members until they can get into more stable or permanent housing, the city said, adding that shelters are part of the City Council’s comprehensive strategy to provide safe housing options for people.
City Councilor Megan Perkins told NewsChannel 21, “We are really trying to show through these images and descriptions what these different types of shelters look like, what they are, and where they would be in our city.”
“Everybody knows that we have an increasing population of people that do not have any place to live, and this would enable more shelters to be built, more places for people to have a safe place at night,” Perkins said.
The proposed code amendments were developed with the help of a City Manager-appointed group called the Sounding Board to House our Neighbors, which has been meeting since April to develop recommendations on the size and type of shelters that should be allowed in each zoning district.
The Sounding Board is comprised of social service providers, housing advocates and designers, and representatives from the Bend Economic Advisory Committee, Neighborhood Leadership Alliance, Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, Planning Commission and City Council.
The type of shelter, size of facility and other recommended standards, such as screening and landscaping, vary by zoning district. The Sounding Board is recommending requirements for neighborhood outreach and on-site or on-call management for all shelters.
The board outlined four shelter types to help with the homeless problem: group, multi-room, outdoor, and hardship Shelters.
Group shelters like Shepherd's House will have one or more open sleeping areas that may be divided only by non-permanent partitions and furnished with cots, floor mats or bunks. The maximum number of shelter beds will be limited by the building occupancy maximum of the building.
Multi-room shelters would be located in a motel, apartment building or a residence. A local example a multi-room shelter is the Bethlehem Inn.
Outdoor shelters would consist of managed camps, with multiple mobile and/or permanent units that are located outside.
Hardship shelters would permit homeowners to accommodate a houseless person in need on their property with an RV or manufactured dwelling.
Perkins said hardship shelters were created after residents expressed a desire to be able to help out friends and families during hard times.
“We’ve heard from so many people that being able to take in someone in an RV on their own property would be incredibly helpful to (the person) and give them time to get back on their feet, to find a more permanent place to live,” Perkins said.
The Sounding Board will meet in November to review public feedback on the code amendments that is received from the interactive online tool and further refine its recommendations. A work session with the Bend Planning Commission is expected on Jan. 10, with a public hearing on Jan. 24.
Following those meetings, the City Council will be reviewing and making policy decisions on the proposed code amendments.