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Deschutes County, Bend leaders agree to proceed with joint ‘homeless office’ partnership

(Update: Adding video, comments from meeting)

Goal is to better coordinate efforts to deal with homeless issues

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County commissioners and Bend city councilors met Thursday afternoon and made progress on coordinating their efforts at tackling the challenging problems of homelessness in the area.

While there are plenty of details to work out, they agreed on moving forward with a city-county "homelessness office" for improved coordination and collaboration.

“The main point was centralizing a place where we can have communications, where we can have policy development, where we can have strategy, and recognizing that both the county and the city want to take this on,” said Bend City Councilor Melanie Kebler.

Fellow councilors Anthony Broadman and Megan Perkins helped spark the concept of a centralized hub for tackling homeless issues by reaching out to Deschutes County commissioners with the idea.

“Everyone knew what the gaps were, we had a general ide. There’s just no one to hold on to that, learn more, plan around it, implement and support folks as direction changes or as strategy needs to change,” said Brittani Manzo, policy strategist and facilitator with the county's Emergency Homelessness Task Force.

Those involved in the meeting did agree that the homeless problem in the county is out of control and that a partnership has to be built between city and county leaders to deal with the issue.

“It's time for the city and the county to work closely together, and to be really effective in how we work together to support our service providers and to actually get real solutions on the ground as quickly as we can,” Kebler said.

The joint city and county homeless office would support partnerships, develop strategies, coordinate funding and lead improvements to assist with the homeless community.

Service providers say they are exhausted and at capacity with providing services to the homeless, and having a partnership with an office that oversees the issues would be helpful.

By the meeting's end, all involved agreed to move forward with the concept.

‘We saw that there is support for this idea," Kebler said. "Of course, there’s details to be worked out, but as a concept, this is an idea that both of our entities support and want to see move forward to the next step,” Kebler said.

As of now, the city of Bend is working on various projects to help the homeless community, such as managed homeless camps and villages.

Commissioners also reviewed projects that are under way using federal American Rescue Plan funding and whether there needs to be a "re-focus" on their use, with a discussion of both short- and long-term strategies.

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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.

Comments

44 Comments

      1. Notice how they conveniently didn’t use a photo of Hunnell Rd? Can’t have the public knowing how much garbage and junk is collecting along that road. Instead they chose the road closer to Space age Gas station.

    1. They could take a picture of the area to the south of Albertsons, that is
      bordered by Murphy. We went by there yesterday on our way to an appointment,
      and a few hours later we went by again on our way home, and there were three
      more tents that were being setup, and the amount of trash is growing at an
      unbelievable rate…
      The area that is along the south bound side of the Parkway, and bordered by
      Reed Market is also growing.
      I’m a little surprised because I’m certain that is ODOT property, and I thought
      that ODOT was supposedly kicking people out of areas like that for safety reasons.
      These certainly aren’t the only areas where tents are being put up. They are everywhere.

      1. At that same location where these “camps” have popped up someone has graffiti the eastside of the abutment that supports the Murphy Rd overpass. Up until now those overpasses paid for by taxpayers on the expressway have remained have been clean, not anymore.

  1. what about the land by the goodwill in SW bend? it’s fenced, flat, nearby things.
    i suggest that the city collect all the jobs from the CO region, put them in a printed list and hand out the lists at these camps.
    jesus – every single shop, company, etc. is hiring!!!
    there are not a shortage of jobs.
    imagine about a small percentage of these folk are unable to work.

          1. Not only the process, it’s a legal requirement for any employer. An I-9 requirement by the federal government. It is illegal to employ anyone without a verifiable physical mailing address. Nevermind the more important issue of how hard it is to hold down any job without a place to sleep, stay clean, feed yourself well, keep your clothes clean, etc. Probably easy to forget when all you think about is YOUR taxes … the same taxes that pay for YOUR roads, your police departments, your kid’s schools, your rehab programs for your drug addict kids, etc. But all taxes are a waste of money when you don’t approve of them aren’t they?

    1. A printed list of jobs would be a waste of money for two reasons;
      One, most of them don’t want to work and the papers would end up
      laying around with all of their other trash, and second, all they have to
      do is walk up and down 3rd street and they could find endless businesses
      that have help wanted signs out front.

  2. It’s a total disgusting dump on that road .. time to give them all the boot… Move on..and hey maybe a job? And quit living off the system. Ya we all have down moments in our life’s… But what a disgrace in Central Oregon.. Been in Central Oregon for over 40yrs… And never was a whole street taken over by a bunch of garbage collectors. Ugh…

  3. A friend in law enforcement said 90% of the people in these camps are from SF, PDX, Seattle, etc. Bend NEVEr had this large of an issue until 2 years ago. These camps are dirty and dangerous.

    Let’s find a safe plot of land, obviously NOT by any school or park, then create a managed camp that requires you to have been a CO resident.

    We are inviting homeless from all over the west coast and beyond so building more camps for all and letting them stay will 200% make it worse. Just because people are homeless doesn’t mean they don’t have phones and means of communication. Let’s support our local community members that fall on hard times 100%. Let’s stop creating an open ended invite for everyone else. We need STOP the madness!

      1. A court ruling from the most overturned court in the country. Oregon alway tries to push the limits of the second amendment. Why are they not pushing back on this?

    1. “Let’s find a safe plot of land, obviously NOT by any school or park, then create a managed camp that requires you to have been a CO resident.”

      I like the idea of requiring homeless to be established residents of C.O in order
      to benefit from any structured program that basically encourages the homeless,
      unfortunately there would be cries of discrimination, and our liberal courts would
      almost certainly side with them.

    2. I completely agree. The way we can overrule court challenges is by created new laws. We need a focus on getting ahead of this issue. We (Oregon and the west coast) cannot continue to be the collecting ground for the nations homeless. The more services we provide and the less we enforce regulations like vehicle registration. The more homeless will migrate here.

  4. Obviously we have a “build it / tolerate it and they will come” situation then. As I said, until the last 18 months, the homeless population in Bend was NEVER this bad.

      1. I lived in Spokane when Washington legalized pot. The influx of homeless drug addicts was unprecedented for a city with no economy and no other reason to live there. Same thing here. Maybe lawmakers think weed is less harmful than other drugs, but it sent a message to the world that Oregon in some way embraces drug culture …. and now here they all are.

  5. This sounds like a step in the right direction and progress. A lot of people a lot smarter than me having been trying to figure how to handle this issue for a long time. There’s a fine line between compassion and enabling. Ignoring the problem is allowing the problem to take over. I’m afraid the honest truth is most of these people don’t want to work, move into “controlled areas” or contribute to the community. Therefore a tough stance needs to be taken. Do it now before it gets out of hand and turns into Eugene, where the quality of life has been ruined!

      1. Bus them to Washington DC. Untill a Nationwide solution is addressed, the areas that attempt to house or care for the homeless will become a draw for the homeless. If you build it, they will come. Untill it becomes a problem for Washington DC, it will not be addressed by DC politicians. When the streets there begin to look like Hunnel Rd, you might start to see some action nationally. Sadly, as it is right now, if you make things good for homeless people you can expect things to deteriorate for those that live here and pay for the said homeless people.

      2. Instead of spending money on treatment, I think we need to invest more in prevention. It needs to start early, like grade school. This great state has cut 2/3 the prevention budget in the last 10 years and it was already small. I think we have a homeless problem and we also need our forests clean so we have few were forest fires. I think if people want to live for nothing, the government can put them to work for the assistance. Pick up sticks.

  6. 90% of the houseless that have shown up in Bend are from other cities. Most likely because services in larger cities have been shuttered due to Covid and they’ve heard that Bend is allowing people to set up camp.

    The tough stance is simple – do not allow camping! Interview them as they leave and get them on a list for services. Boise seems to have figured it out: https://boisedev.com/news/2021/05/26/annual-count-shows-decline-in-boise-homelessness-despite-housing-crunch-whats-going-on/

    and FTR I was in Boise recently not as bad as Bend.

    1. Anywhere you find Californians move to the homeless follow. To Californian’s refuges Bend looks just like Santa Cruz or Venice Beach. If you don’t like looking at the homeless move to Westside, that is what the Californians do.

  7. The courts say you can not stop them BUT they did not say how much space to allow them nor how much volume of crap they can have. Enforce a square footage limit. The city and county will step in and make people clean up private property when it gets too much junk, why not enforce that with these bums? Any vehicle needs to have proof of ownership, enforce it.

  8. Kind of like the chicken and the egg question. Are all of the “services” being provided to these people just attracting more? Not a lot of services being provided in Hampton, Brothers, Gilcrest, Christmas Valley or Lakeview, and I don’t see a lot of large transient camps in these locations. Makes you wonder.

    1. Bureaucrats love creating new “offices” Creating more offices aka overhead for taxpayers surely will solve the problem. Unfortunately, their solution will be more “services” for the homeless… Because providing them more handouts surely fixes things…

    1. The Constitution gives states inherent “police power” to protect public health, safety, and welfare. Hate to agree with the Proud Boy-types but much of the blame does reside with the state here.

  9. The simple solution is to send them down the road. This “enabling” that many confuse as “compassion” is only hurting the homeless and ruining our community. If this behavior wasn’t tolerated from the beginning we would never have gotten to this point. Another government caused problem now being solved by an ineffective misguided government? Get ready for a far worse problem if we let them continue down their path of cOmPaSsIoN.

  10. Communication and coordination is important sure. All members however agree the problem is “out of control”, so please don’t dwell too long on the logistics. A simple framework would be a good start….the homeless need to have a safe place to be and the law says we can only move folks from where they choose to camp if there is an alternate place to receive them. Consider it a wise investment in the long run. Cities everywhere suffer when campers set camp wherever they choose. Life is tough for those without homes, but it’ll get tougher if we don’t keep Bend livable. Sanitation services, running water, and latrines should be part of the equation, as well as connections to rehab, job seeking services, and transportation.

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