City of Bend News Release – Houselessness Update 3/02/2022

Megan Perkins’ Council Update 3/2/22

Post Date: 03/02/2022 7:23 PM

Because of the broad community interest in housing and houselessness, the City Council added a standing agenda item to Council business meetings to provide regular updates on City Council’s work on addressing houselessness.

Megan Perkins’ Council Update 3/2/22

I wanted to start tonight by acknowledging that many of you are frustrated and fearful of our current houseless situation. We hear from people every day that are afraid to drive down certain streets or walk in certain places at night. We hear from businesses every day that are concerned about their livelihoods due to trash or crime from unsanctioned camping. Combine that with the alarming fact that roughly three quarters of our houseless are unsheltered and we have a serious crisis in our community.


Shelters can provide a bridge for houseless community members until they can get into more stable or permanent housing. Shelters in the city of Bend are not and will not be Hunnell Road with a fence around it. Shelters provide case management, security, trash clean up, integration with the neighborhood, and so much more. Most importantly shelters provide safety for those inside and those living and working outside. Shelters are part of the City Council’s comprehensive strategy to provide safe housing options for people.

Increasing opportunities to develop more shelters will allow the City to better manage camping in public places. The proposed development code changes are one key tool in this toolbox.


We are still in the public process regarding proposed development code changes related to shelters. The proposed code changes are intended to provide options for various types of shelters to be built in most zoning districts in Bend. (Information on the proposed changes is here.)


Public input associated with these code amendments has been more inclusive than typical, required processes. State law and City code require that the changes go through two public hearings: one at the Planning Commission, and one at City Council.


These proposed amendments were developed through nine public meetings of the Sounding Board to House our Neighbors, a public advisory group, not the City Council, beginning in April 2021.


The Planning Commission has held its public hearing and is now deliberating on the proposed amendments. Their next meeting is March 8.


After Planning Commission completes its deliberations, we’ll determine next steps for bringing a work session and public hearings to the City Council.


Most of the issues and questions raised at the Planning Commission meetings were also discussed and considered during the Sounding Board process. The Planning Commission is considering the public input, will discuss it as a body, and will make recommendations to the City Council.


Then the proposed amendments move to the City Council for a public hearing, anticipated on April 6. Written public input can be submitted at any time until the record closes, and verbal testimony will be taken at the City Council public hearing. The Council will make the final decisions on the proposed amendments.


We understand the community’s concerns. A question surrounding the proposed shelter code updates is: What would change in Bend? But to be clear, the proposed changes don’t represent a significant change from what’s currently allowed.


Homeless shelters are already allowed in residential areas in Bend. Right now, temporary housing – which is what some would call a homeless shelter – can be located in Bend in residential zones, subject to a conditional use permit. In other words, homeless shelters can already legally operate in Bend’s neighborhoods.


The Oregon Legislature passed a law (HB 2006) in 2021 requiring cities to approve emergency shelters anywhere in a city. It does not just allow but requires cities to approve emergency shelters anywhere in a city, including residential neighborhoods, as long as certain basic conditions are met. HB 2006 says these are not land use decisions, meaning neighbors do not receive notice and do not have the ability to challenge a siting application through the typical land use process. HB 2006 expires as of July 1, 2022.


These proposed code amendments are meant to provide better, managed outdoor camping options. They do not legalize or sanction unmanaged outdoor camping in your neighborhood like you’ve seen on Emerson Avenue, Hunnell Road or Second Street.


The proposed code amendments are intended to create opportunities for permitted, managed options. The changes would create better-defined opportunities for property owners and service providers who want to provide better, managed options for people experiencing homelessness. It is important to create opportunities and options for those who want help, and those who are able and willing to provide it.


Unmanaged outdoor camping – like you see on Hunnell Road – is still subject to a City administrative policy intended to balance public safety with the reality that there are too many people with no shelter and no place to go.


That administrative policy is what the City can use to address unsafe camping sites, such as Second Street. Later in the meeting, City Manager Eric King will update the Council on progress and current efforts to address unsanctioned camping on Second Street. Stay tuned to the City Manager’s report toward the end of the meeting.



The Shelter Code updates are just one piece of the strategy. Other pieces, as a reminder, include:


  • As part of its overall strategy, the City is also beginning work on comprehensive Municipal Code provisions to regulate camping and sleeping in public places in compliance with state law. While the City will not be able to completely prohibit camping and sleeping on all public property, increasing shelter opportunities will strengthen the City’s ability to manage its public places.
  • You’ve heard us talk about a proposal from Central Oregon Villages to manage Outdoor Shelters. We are still trying to find a site on which to locate outdoor shelters. A contract to begin Phase I of the process of creating two outdoor shelter sites is contingent on finding a location. It had anticipated to come before Council on March 16 but as of this moment, there is no location identified.
  • 2nd Street is also the location of a designated permanent warming shelter operated by Shepherd’s House with a capacity of 100 beds. The City has received a proposal to operate location as Navigation Center and that contract anticipated to come to Council on March 16.

And, lastly for tonight’s update: more good news about resources growing to help address this issue.


The Oregon Legislature is considering a comprehensive funding package that allocates $400 million statewide in funding housing and houselessness solutions including several direct allocations:

  • $1 million for the Deschutes County Collaborative Office via HB 4123;
  • $1.5 million for assistance towards increasing shelter capacity and related services; and
  • $400,000 for cleanup and sanitation services.


Final votes are anticipated on these funding packages later this week.  A more formal wrap up of this legislative session will be summarized at the March 16th Council meeting.


I would like to finish tonight with a quote from Mr. Rogers: When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” Thank you to all of the helpers in our Bend community.