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ODOT has performed 37 Bend homeless camp cleanups near the Bend Parkway so far this year; total cost $31,000

(Update: 37 total camps cleaned up by ODOT so far this year, correcting total price)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Department of Transportation says they've cleaned up nearly 40 homeless camps along Highway 97 in Bend since the beginning of the year. The 37 camp cleanups have cost a total of $31,000.

ODOT Region 4 Public Information Officer Kacey Davey said it cost up to $10,000 last year for a day of cleanups at 10 or more large camps, including numerous staff and contractors removing hazardous wastes and trash along the agency's rights of way.

"This year, we have smaller crews working on smaller camps, and they have only spent about four to five full days on those 37 total camps," Davey said.

The sweeps largely focus on five areas off the Bend Parkway, and residents of those camps are required to receive advance notice.

The bike path near Truman Avenue has new orange fencing and No Trespassing signs installed. It's one of five common spots ODOT says the campers come back to frequently after being cleared.

You'll see crews on the rights of way near Revere Avenue, Reed Market Road and Colorado Avenue. Those locations haven't changed from last summer, when we spoke to first spoke to ODOT about the process.

"We always try to get to these areas and address them before they grow in size. The smaller these restoration events are, the less resources that we have to put to them," Davey said.

It seems to be a back-and-forth game for ODOT crews and the homeless, as on Wednesday, NewsChannel 21 captured video of tents being set up off Colorado Avenue.

Crews determine what items are trash or personal belongings and are held in a facility for 30 days where they can be picked up. 

"Camping in the right of ways, next to the state highway is really not a safe place for anyone to be," Davey said. "And so we're hoping that those folks can find a place that is safer. And we rely on our community service organizations to help people with resources and find places where they can be."

We checked in with Shepherd's House Ministry to determine if numbers at the shelter change as a result of ODOT cleanups.

Staff tell us they don't identify where residents come from when they arrive at The Lighthouse Navigation Center. This week, the facility has served about 100 residents a day. 

ODOT says they have paused cleanups for this week due to the colder weather, but plan to start up again next week.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.


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