The Bend City Council set guidelines for a managed houseless camp at its regular meeting Nov. 3. The City is attempting to fast track the process, hoping to have an operating camp established by winter to shelter the growing houseless population.
The City is exploring eight different sites, but the most expedient option is to build on one of two City-owned properties. A proposed Ninth Street site faced extreme pushback from neighbors and teachers concerned about its proximity to an elementary and high school. Another site on Juniper Ridge is also under consideration, though it is also controversial among nearby homeowners and businesses. The request for proposals to service providers was intentionally vague enough that service providers could give site-specific plans and different managed camp models.
- Jack Harvel
- A safe camp site is marked by the City, along with signs from neighbors displeased about the camp's placement.
"We have a variety of sites that we continue to explore, and what we're hoping to do, our plan here for the RFP is that when an operator proposes they're going to tell us what the layout might be, do they want to do a safe parking site, do they want to do a Central Oregon Vets Village model, what are they thinking and what support do they need from us and also how are they going to talk to the community around that site," Carolyn Eagan said.
Service providers are expected to refine their plans based on site characteristics and community input. Though there will be some flexibility, they have to meet some benchmarks. Camps have to include facilities and amenities including restrooms, showers, food service and trash removal, support services like crisis planning, case management services and coordination with permanent housing resources, and there must also be a comprehensive plan including a safety assessment, screening processes and criteria for expulsing tenants.
Other services may come into play if a service provider is working with a specific population. That could mean employment services for unaccompanied houseless youths, behavioral health services for campers experiencing mental health crises and substance abuse treatment for people experiencing a drug or alcohol addiction.
"You can see the list of other services that might be part of a proposal, but we weren't feeling like we needed to require from every operator, because every operator may be choosing to work with a different population or have a different layout for how they expect their site to go," Eagan said.
- Courtesy of the City of Bend
- The City of Bend is exploring Crusher Site 2 in Juniper Ridge as a central hub for unhoused service providers, as well as a safe camping site.
The urgency to create a camp comes as the unmanaged camp on Hunnel Road grows, gaining campers after ODOT and the Bend Police Department removed campsites adjacent to Colorado Avenue and Revere Parkway in October. The City served notice of a cleanup to the Hunnel Road residents on Oct. 28 to ensure the street can be snow plowed. Ninety residents and seventy vehicles inhabit the short street, according to service providers who attended the recent City Council meeting.
"When people say why are you moving so fast, why are you trying to do so many things, this is why, because what we have on Hunnel Road right now is unacceptable to everybody," Bend City Councilor Megan Perkins said. "This is no way to live and that is why we need managed safe camping in our community."
Bend City Council singled out an acre in Juniper Ridge called Crusher Site 2 as a centralized hub for service providers to easily access campers living in Juniper Ridge, and potentially create another safe parking site there as well.
"It seems like this site is really ideal," Bend City Councilor Gena Goodman-Campbell said. "It's a really large site, and so the size of it alone and how it's been flattened and cleared is conducive to having people come in and safely park and camp in that area and mitigate the concerns we've had in the past with things like fire danger."
There's no definitive timeline for when the first camp will open; it will depend on how quickly service providers can satisfy the criteria set by the City.