Bend City Council Houselessness Update 10/20/21
Bend City Council Houselessness Update 10/20/21
Message from Mayor ProTem Gena Goodman Campbell:
Because of the broad community interest in housing and houselessness, we are adding a new standing agenda item to our meetings to provide regular updates on City Council’s work on addressing houselessness and to engage with some of the questions and concerns we are hearing.
I begin this update with the council’s Guiding vision (*see below) for 2021-2023 to ground us all in the driving values and intentions of this council. You can read all of our goals on the city council page of the City of Bend’s website.
We are making progress towards meeting the many goals we have set, including adding 80 new shelter beds in the first three months of this biennium alone. I know that this will mean visible changes throughout Bend. These changes are absolutely necessary and urgent. Because the current situation, with unhoused community members camping on the sides of roads or in the forest without the ability to meet their basic needs, is not working for anyone.
There are people with no place to go. We need facilities or shelter opportunities for people without housing. Until we as a community provide more shelter options, you’ll continue to see unmanaged camps like you’ve seen on Parkway offramps and Hunnell Road. This leads to traumatic events such as the efforts ODOT has taken recently to evict humans camping along the Parkway. Until there are more places for people to go, the City is limited in how it manages camps in public places.
With winter fast approaching and temperatures already dipping into the twenties, this council is committed to doing everything we can to prevent humans from dying on the streets of Bend from preventable causes like exposure.
Our most urgent priority is to secure as many shelter beds, or safe places for people to sleep as possible before winter. At the most basic level, this means a place where anyone can go to meet their basic needs as long as they are not harming themselves, harming others, or harming property. At our last meeting, we directed staff to look into the possibility of purchasing or leasing another hotel with funds we have already received from the state for a “navigation center,” which will provide shelter and much needed services and support for community members to transition into stable housing.
In addition, tonight, I am asking for council’s agreement on next steps on the City’s request for proposals from service providers to provide more safe places for people to stay this winter.
At our November 3 meeting, I would like staff to share with us more potential locations for a variety of types of shelters and I’d like the Council to review a scope of work that would ensure safety and accountability for everyone. The intention is to give service providers in our community an opportunity to tell us what types of shelter and services they are prepared to provide, so that we can match providers with an appropriate site, if one is available.
I know it will be alarming to some people to see potential shelter sites identified in their neighborhood, and I want to be clear that just because a site is on the list for our consideration, it does not mean that we have specific plans for the site, or even that it will have any sort of emergency shelter developed on it. We have a responsibility to both consider all available sites, and to be open and transparent with the community about the sites we are considering. We will engage neighbors and all members of the public throughout the process of creating and deciding on specific plans for specific sites, and work alongside selected service providers to address both the needs of residents at these sites and surrounding neighbors. Regardless of the type of shelter that is provided, any site that we select for temporary emergency shelter will be professionally managed.
— Gena Goodman Campbell
*We believe Bend can be a city for everyone. We can all share in the prosperity and promise of this unique and beautiful place. We honor the people that came before us on these lands and acknowledge that the health of our community relies on the health of our environment. As stewards of the city, we are accountable to the people of Bend and are responsible for delivering excellent city services. We are committed to serving everyone equitably, creating a more connected community, and preserving Bend’s spirit as we grow. We will strive to achieve equity and justice for everyone in Bend.
Council Goals include a goal to create housing or facilities to house 500 homeless individuals on a temporary or permanent basis. Goodman Campbell noted that this council has played a role in the creation of about 110 shelter beds already: 2nd Street added 80 beds, and Bend Value Inn will add about 30 beds.