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Bend officials remove unsafe homeless camp along NE Second Street and Greeley Avenue

After 2-week, 72-hour notices, 37 tents were still left to clear Monday morning - and other campsites have returned

(Update: Adding video, comments from city official, nearby business, Bend resident)

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- Starting at 5:30 a.m. Monday, Bend police officers posted blockades around Northeast Second Street near Greeley Avenue in order to begin the cleanup and removal of homeless campsites deemed unsafe and negatively impacting nearby businesses over the past several months.

City officials last month had declared the homeless encampment unsafe. The cleanup efforts will continue into Tuesday to restore safe street conditions.

“The police response to this area was unusually high," city Communications Director Anne Aurand said. "There was some violence and criminal actions happening here."

People staying there earlier were given two weeks notice and 72-hour notices by the city as service providers stepped up efforts to find new locations for them. However, there were still around 37 occupied tents Monday morning.

Central Oregon Bio Solutions cleared out a giant Dumpster full of leftover belongings.

Valuable items will be kept in a container at the city's Pilot Butte campus by the Streets Department/

“We’ve heard from a lot of businesses asking for help, that having this in front of their businesses is impacting their ability to operate," Aurand said.

Samir Dean, a sales and marketing associate at Paulson’s Flooring on Second Street, said the city's homeless issue has become a human crisis.

“The customers were reluctant to come and visit our showroom," Dean said. "Not only our place, but other showrooms and the other businesses in the area.”

One Bend observer who used to be homeless said he supports the cleanup but urged others to remain respectful of those experiencing houselessness.

"I got an apartment about six years ago, five years ago and it’s-low income. It started at -- really inexpensive, at $444 a month," Paul Bishop said.

With the cleanup however, another familiar concern is brought to the table. There's nothing keeping the campers from coming back or congregating elsewhere.

“Our worry now is that the people who live in tents here, they’re going to move to other locations in the area, and that’s not -- will not solve the problem," Dean said. "It’s not acceptable to have people and families, and kids live on the street this way, in this kind of weather. It’s not acceptable.”

The city spokeswoman said they do offer help to those who will accept it.

“When folks ask people to leave, we do give them a list of resources," Aurand said. "Here are service providers that you can call, or here’s a place that we know there are some beds available.”

One did not have to look far to see signs of the continued problem.

Homeless camps are back at the Bend Parkway Revere Avenue ramp. The Oregon Department of Transportation cleared it last month, for the second time in four months. ODOT posted No Trespassing signs last fall, saying it's a dangerous place to be.

 "we will be working with the police on that enforcement," Public Information Officer Kacey Davey said. "Any personal property located in the area will be removed as part of our right-of-way restoration efforts. When the areas are posted as 'No Trespass,' we don’t have to post a notice, wait, and then do the work. The timeline is sped up. I don’t have an exact date, but we will be continuing our efforts. A lot of the timing has to do with other maintenance priorities."

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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