First, a spot for RVs and tents; later, an RV park or campground
BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- The City of Bend is once again tackling the issue of homeless campers on the city’s Juniper Ridge property.
Eulalie Lourenco's made her “retirement home” on the property.
"It's affordable and it's quiet, and I'm free here,” she told NewsChannel 21 on Thursday.
Lourenco has lived in a tent at Juniper Ridge since January.
She's one of about 100 to 125 people who call the undeveloped land on the city's north end home.
"It's peaceful, I like it. And there's not property taxes or insurance," she said.
She lives there by choice, because she said she can't afford a home in Bend.
"They want to look at your credit, and they want you to rent a room or lease a room,” Lourenco said. “I don't want that. I don't want to be bouncing around.”
Not everything is perfect, though. The train runs right through the area.
Bend Economic Development director Carolyn Eagan said, "One of the things that happened this summer is we had two incidents where our community members experiencing homelessness tried to cross the railway."
One of those incidents is where the Juniper Ridge Fire started back in mid-August, threatening homes and prompting evacuations.
The city of Bend wants to prepare the land for development.
"It is the city's industrial park,” Eagan said. “So we had always planned these 500 acres to serve as an employment center, for not just the city of Bend, but the whole region."
The city is exploring solutions for the homeless living at Juniper Ridge while the city constructs a sewer line to prepare the land for development.
The city is planning to invite them to a site just south of where they are living currently, near Cooley Road, at a temporary shelter area for RVs and tents that could last until next summer.
This isn't the first time campers have been asked to move. but now it could come potentially with working facilities.
"I think it would be great,” Lourenco said. “Especially if there are facilities. I stayed at a hotel, and I miss running water."
The location of the area will allow better access to Cooley road.
The city announced Thursday afternoon the site could be available for use this winter, and would be available for the next 12 to 24 months.
Here's the full news release:
City Task Force to Address Juniper Ridge Camping
Post Date:10/22/2020 2:43 PM
At its Oct. 21 City Council meeting, Bend City Council supported a staff plan to create an Emergency Homelessness Task Force and explore the possibility of developing a temporary transitional shelter site on City-owned property at Juniper Ridge. The task force will provide a means of collaboration for site design and camp management among City, County, nonprofit social services agency and neighborhood leaders.
A new temporary transitional shelter site would create a place for individuals and families in the community experiencing homelessness to camp. The site could include a gravel surface, safe access to adjacent streets, sanitation services and other utilities. It would also provide nonprofit social services agencies a place to connect community members to critical resources.
The City hopes to begin construction on the temporary site as soon as possible. The site could be available for use this winter, and would be available for the next 12 to 24 months.
This temporary site is the first phase of a plan to help address community concerns regarding the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community. The second phase of the plan would include the development of an RV park or campground sometime between the spring of 2021 and the spring of 2022. The timing for planning and developing phase two is dependent on State, County and City approvals.
The Emergency Homelessness Task Force will include homeless services professionals, health care providers and social service providers. It is expected to last for a 12-month term and provide service provision and budget recommendations to the City.
A temporary transitional shelter site at Juniper Ridge is one of many short-term solutions to help address homelessness in Bend. Short-term and long-term solutions, like a permanent warming shelter or professionally managed camps, are also necessary to support community members as they transition out of homelessness and into stable housing. For examples of short-, medium- and long-term solutions, see the Council Work Session presentation from Oct. 21.
For more information on the task force and its work, visit the task force webpage.