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‘A huge step’: Bend lawmaker proposes bill to promote city-county joint homelessness efforts

(Updated: adding video, comments from local government)

Deschutes County, Bend and Redmond one of eight pilot projects

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Food banks needing volunteers, shelters at capacity, and camps on the side of the road. It's no secret Central Oregon has an increasingly visible homelessness issue. But a new bill proposed by a Bend lawmaker could change that, at the least improving coordination of the many efforts already underway here and elsewhere.

State Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, will be proposing a bill (currently Legislative Concept 218 - LC218) that provides two years of state funding for communities around Oregon who adopt a regional approach to coordinating communities' response to homelessness.

The bill specifically names Deschutes County and the cities of Bend and Redmond as among the statewide pilots (all three as a single pilot program). It would give eight regions across Oregon $1 million each. Local officials have been discussing such a joint effort in recent months.

Bend City Councilor Melanie Kebler says this type of collaboration is necessary, to make good progress on the tough issues.

"It's really necessary, because we know the problem is not just a city problem -- in any one city," She said. "And so having the county work on it lets us be more efficient and lets us get more work done in a strategic way."

The proposed bill is not intended to duplicate existing work, and it's not supposed to take on the role of direct service delivery. But if the bill is passed by state lawmakers next month, local governments would:

  • Work with regional partners to manage a homeless response office
  • Create an oversight board
  • Make a five-year strategic plan to identify gaps in homeless services
  • Commit to continued funding

Redmond Mayor George Endicott says he's all for the legislation -- even though finding solutions to homelessness is an issue that has sharply divided the City Council in recent months. (Deschutes County and Bend, meanwhile, came to an initial agreement to crate just such a joint office.)

"The Redmond City Council said, 'We understand the problem, we're sympathetic to the problem, but we aren't the ones that have money to address the problem,'" he said. "The funding specifically for those kinds of issues rests with the county or the state."

"It was a bit controversial, but the final vote was that while we were sympathetic to it, it's not something that we should be funding," Endicott added, referencing a Redmond City Council meeting last year.

Bend Councilor Kebler says if passed, the bill could provide a missing piece in reducing homelessness in Central Oregon.

"It's a huge step in realizing the complexities of the issues that we're dealing with, and just what it's going to take to create a real strategic plan to achieve the goals we want to achieve," she said. "And then actually implement it and make sure we're following through with our goals."

The bill will be proposed during this year's legislative session, which begins Feb. 1.

At the Redmond City Council meeting next Tuesday evening, guests will discuss the nature and purpose of the bill, what it means to be one of the eight proposed pilot projects across Oregon and answer questions from councilors.

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

Comments

64 Comments

  1. I am sick of this tolerant standpoint that we have taken. It should NOT be EASY to be homeless. We need to make it easy to be a contributing member of society. Most all of the homeless I run across have no plans for the future, they don’t try to better themselves and they are perfectly fine with the status quo. The camps over by space age need to be cleaned up. There are loitering and littering laws. Homeless should not get a pass just because they are homeless… If I have a broken down trailer outside of my house it gets towed. It is time for real action, not enablement.

    Shame on you Bend for tolerating this and shame on the City of Bend for the double standards.

    1. Super up vote! If this bill passes, the money needs to go directly towards moving the homeless out! Not pandering to them which only amplifies the problem. There have been numerous stories on KTVZ about homeless and every time they interview an individual from one of these camps, they are squawking about how they are not getting enough handouts or how they came from across the country just to come here but have not tried to get a job or be a productive member of this community.

    2. Didn’t Oregon lawmakers declare it verboten for police to roust homeless people? Or was that just Bend? There is so much to keep up with nowadays with the liberals assaulting good family values and civic responsibility on many fronts. Anyway, my view is that the problem of growing homeless communities would be nipped in the bud if local law enforcement still had the power to, shall we say…”encourage” layabouts to keep moving and not stay within the community. If each and every community did this, then hobos would realize they have no choice but to become contributing members of society, and those who have true mental health issues would be more likely to seek out help or be found by those who can provide such help. I’m happy to help with getting things started. Here’s a dollar.

  2. Put Homeless camps on Lawmakers property. Enough with the spending money on this crap. Its only getting worse because these bums know Democratic lawmakers are spineless. Tough love, no mas’ dinero

  3. A 1 million dollar proposal that uses NONE of the money for direct services. Instead, it’s going to costs of setting up a (presumably) new office and staff costs. Remember this zippo and this fumble at the next election.

    1. Just more political trickle down policies. By the time it trickles down to the people that it is intended to help there will be little left to help those it was intended for. And no, that’s not an over generalization.

    2. Indeed. Vote the social democrat/”progressives” out in 2022.

      “What is the difference between social democracy and democratic socialism?
      Social democracy has a mostly capitalistic economy with large-scale social welfare programs. Social Democracy is the implementation of a massive welfare state.”

      Kinda like the kleptocracy in “communist” Cuba.

      1. I’ve looked for statistics about the “origins” of the homeless population and found them very hard to come by, but anecdotally it’s clear that many homeless people in Oregon “from” California really only passed through California. I’m not sure there’s basis or benefit in pointing the finger at specific states (although I acknowledge the consistency of the approach by anti-Americans; divide and conquer really is a powerful tool).

      2. Good question. Since when did California become a red state. I’ve heard of no homeless people coming here from Idaho. Why would homeless people travel here to this wintery area if not for liberal policies? Just to freeze their collective buns off?

        1. They come here from places like Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Missouri, the Dakota’s etc. Cold hard red places with limited opportunities and resources. Often via places in the south that didn’t work out for them. Feel free to go check out where you would want to leave from also. Same migration patterns exist on all inhabited continents.

      3. They didn’t. Don’t you remember the Oakies in The Grapes of Wrath? It’s been going on forever. The down and out from places undeveloped always end up in the places built by liberals. Look at the entire world for an example. Why do you think that con man extraordinaire wanted to build a wall to protect the nation his parents generation built?

  4. So I have a question regarding the broadcast version of this story.

    There is a clear image in the footage of a pallet rack stocked with BEER. Is KTVZ actually informing us that the homeless community is being provided with free beer?

    Or is this some backroom editing SNAFU?

      1. It was clearly Deschutes Brewery variety packs – Porter, Pale Ale, Lager and IPA.

        (I’d include an image if only WordPress supported such content.)

        It sure looked like it was recent footage…

                1. Yes, we do great, thanks to folks like you visiting so much! Thanks! People who keep doing things/going to places they claim to hate… there are some names for that…

  5. A structured approach, at last, but still…

    At today’s inflation rate $1MIL purchasing power is actually $922,761.08. With inflation projected to worsen over the course of 2022 and into 2023, the Dollar will drop even more. This will dramatically effect what the $$ will indeed purchase regarding administrative, staffing, and over-sight functions, both short and long term.

    Bend is the weak sister in all of this. Its city council opened the doors to an influx of homeless / houseless / jobless folks over the course of the spring/summers of 2020/2021 – and curbed local law enforcement from providing meaningful enforcement of criminal law at the “welcome to Bend” camps. The so-called managed camps are rightfully stalled by tax paying citizens who don’t want the very real problems of such camps, managed or otherwise, bring with them.

    https://www.koin.com/local/multnomah-county/city-starts-clearing-long-term-homeless-camp-in-nw-portland/

    So much more to this forever social issue than grant money.

  6. What these so called leaders dont realize is that the more we provide for these homeless people the more they will keep streaming into Bend from other cities and towns. As soon as you house 1000 THEN 10,000 others hear about Bend and make their way here. Word spreads, these people have phones and phone internet. Other cities that are not so welcoming dont have these self created problems.

  7. Once this office is established and staffed the homelessness problem will never go away. With peoples careers on the line and huge financial incentives they will rely on it continuing indefinitely.

  8. This clearly exemplifies the endemic inefficiencies so prominent during this age of entitlement. NONE of the million goes to direct services. Instead it’s spent on creating an oversight board, office costs, and planning. Would have been much spent as a grant to a private operation like St. Vinnies. Why in the hell does it cost a million to get the county and city to coordinate efforts???

  9. Here’s a more specific article on this bill and the money behind it as well as the yet to be addressed policies and projects it might be used for – a bit more informative.

    “Salem is one of 14 Oregon cities slated to receive $1 million for housing and homeless services following the state Legislature’s Monday special session…The bill says funds are intended to address housing insecurity, lack of affordable housing or homelessness…Kristen Retherford, Salem’s urban development director, said the legislation at this point is broad and flexible, and “no rules or guidelines have been written for it yet…“It could be divided up, it could just go as one chunk. It could go external, we could keep it internal. We have no idea right now until we have those policy discussions,” she said…Retherford said the $1 million isn’t enough to create a new housing project, which can run upwards of $30 million…

    https://www.salemreporter.com/posts/5646/legislature-earmarks-1-million-for-salem-housing-and-homeless-services-distribution-plans-unclear

  10. Buy them one way bus tickets. 95% of the VAGRANTS (not homeless) aren’t even from Oregon! They come because their vagrancy is tolerated and coddled. Want more homeless?

    1. State laws and court opinions greatly restrict what communities can do.
      “Holding relocation out as a solution to homelessness quickly leads to toxicity. But these programs can help those who need to be reconnected with past communities, family members, or friends. No one is suggesting cutting these programs, but advocates say that housing and services should be provided along with the opportunity to leave town. Bus tickets can help a select few, but they’re a band-aid on a gaping wound.

      “Homelessness has been an issue starting in the 1980s when the budget for HUD was cut in half. It hasn’t recovered since,” said Giselle Routhier, policy director for the advocacy organization Coalition for the Homeless. “What’s needed is an actual investment in real federal spending.””
      https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvg7ba/instead-of-helping-homeless-people-cities-are-bussing-them-out-of-town

      1. Are there any state laws or court opinions preventing bus tickets? Is there anything in the constitution that applies to equal protection? If I throw litter on the ground, Can I be prosecuted? Would I be prosecuted where others may not?

        1. It’s an evolving area of law and policy. I’m no lawyer.
          Then there’s the political aspect of deciding who gets to stay and who is not “worthy.”
          Ship em all out is a close cousin to lock em all up.
          Simple answers are often simplistic and don’t take into account the tradeoffs, unintended consequences and messy details.
          In other words, the Blame Society at work.

          1. Barney is quite the proponent of the emerging homless indusrial complex here is seems. This will only attract more and acomplish nothing of any import or progress. It gets cold here and the City of Bend just attracts more homeless. Any weather related incidents are on the city

          2. So, what is the alternative to the blame society? The “Its never anyones fault, and all that stuff just happened society?” They have an anthem ready to go….Blame it on the rain! Milli Vanilli in the house!!! I have yet to hear of any evolving law that makes it illegal to give some one a bus ticket. Picking up hitchhikers can be illegal, but that is a different animal. A free bus ticket is a far cry from a jail cell. Having been a guest of the government, it’s someplace I would not wish to return. I will taker the bus ticket to points south thanks! As to simple answers, one of your finest peers (Old Henry Louis Mencken)has had a few dandy quotes, and one of my favorites.. Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong. of course , it is usually simplified to something along the lines of “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong”. There is some truth to that. Putting the homeless dossers on a bus is not going to solve the problem as if by magic. It will take more than that. It will take a national level strategy. Anything short of that is as useless as tits on a boar hog. If you build it they will come. The tickets should be one way to Salem, or better yet, Washington D.C. It is only the first step. However, it IS a step in the right direction. It won’t cause drawn out fights over which neighborhood to dump the problem on. The homeless won’t freeze. It won’t require a new Czar of anything. Of course, the devil is in the details, and of those there would be plenty. The first person returned home would be more of an accomplishment than our entire city council has collectively managed to accomplish in several years of trying and spectacularly failing. Maybe our city council would then be free to find another way to run Bend into the ground. Another Mencken quote particularly apropos …Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. It’s as if the guy could see the future of elections in Bend!

  11. Either locals who are closed minded or morons who paid well over market for property here and now cry about having to deal with homeless like every other city?

  12. The van dwellers and RV guys are NOT homeless. Their vehicles are their homes. The problem is the garbage and filth they leave at the encampments. Fine. Let them park on some off beaten path.
    Enforce littering, thievery, and environmental laws. Just because one is poor and living in an RV does not mean you can steal shopping carts, throw your garbage in the forest, or dump your black tank in the gutter. Recruit them for public service. BUT… Here is the big reveal… “Commit to continued funding.” The more money thrown at the problem the bigger the problem becomes to get more money. So the problem shall be continued to keep the bureaucrats employed. Anyone… ANYONE. Tell us one problem the government solved with a government problem??? (Hint. Biden will shut down covid) (Hint. Johnson will end poverty.) (Hint. Bush will win the war on terror) (Hint. Obama will give everyone medical care)

  13. Melanie Kebler mentioned “goals.” What precisely are these goals? No more homelessness in Bend? No more street encampments? What? The citizens need to know, and if someone can be kind enough to point me to a list of these goals I would appreciate it.

    Further, she noted, quite astutely, that this is not just a city problem but a wider issue. However, does she not know that the problem is actually a national, if not an international, problem? If so, and Bend provides services, will this not just attract more homeless people to the area. I am not trying to be cold-hearted in this regard, but the good citizens of Bend should be fully aware of what’s being planned and react accordingly if they are concerned.

    Finally, I am curious if any of these “services” require any effort from the homeless themselves. Given the state of affairs with garbage and right-of-way infringement it does not seem that they care much about the rather mundane issues of cleanliness and an orderly society.

    Help me out f you have answers.

    Thank you.

    1. There have been frequent media reports that indicate the residents of managed camps will have to meet standards and work to improve their situation. But the dismissive stereotypes and generalizations don’t die easily.
      “People living in the villages will be expected to help maintain the entire facility and, if applicable, address issues that may keep them from finding permanent housing like addiction treatment, mental health issues and professional development. The villages will accept people who use drugs, but they’re expected to stop while living there. ”
      https://www.bendsource.com/bend/new-year-new-villages/Content?oid=16068498
      “Are the majority of homeless individuals mentally ill, or using drugs or alcohol?
      Decades of epidemiological research reveals that one-third, at most, have a serious mental illness. And it is believed that only 20 to 40 percent of homeless have a substance abuse issue. In fact, abuse is rarely the sole cause of homelessness and more often is a response to it because living on the street puts the individual in frequent contact with users and dealers.”
      https://covillages.org/faq/

      1. Barney. OK, that is helpful to a certain extent; but I am still wondering about “goals.” Again, I am not cold-hearted, but I truly wonder what Ms. Kebler is referring to when she says “goals.” What precisely are these goals? I do see that managed camps will have some rules, so that seems good; but, again, what are the overall goals?

        Concerning the issue of homelessness being a wider problem than can be addressed by Bend alone, if we build managed camps, and these fill up, will those waiting in line simply live on the streets as is now being done? It seems to me that there is a very long conveyor belt we are dealing with when it comes to homelessness. Can Bend handle this? Does Bend really want to handle this? Are there limits to what we are willing and able to do, or does this go on ad infinitum ad nauseum?

        Thanks again for your initial response.

            1. I agree that it would be a crack story. What precisely are the goals? what are we trying to do? on another note, I did find Ms. Kebler’s email and I did send her a note asking the question.

  14. It is apparent to me that the root of homelessness for most is their addiction to something. Perhaps our city,county and nation should aggressively address addiction? I know that’s just a pipe dream but it seems logical.

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