Homeless people forced to leave private property in southeast Bend are learning the hard way about the city’s new camping code.
A week ago, 25 homeless people were forced to leave the Wildflower Development near the intersection of 15th Street and Wilson Avenue. Many of them moved onto nearby sidewalks and rights-of-way bordering the development.
According to the property owner, all but five of the original 25 campers have vacated the area. The remaining campers are having a hard time figuring out what to do next.
“I was here for two years. The land is getting developed so I’ve been evicted from home, or what I made home,” said D.G., one of the campers forced to leave.
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He moved all he could carry to the public right of way on SE Bronzewood Avenue where it dead ends near the Larkspur Trail.
“Imagine yourself trying to find a place that makes you feel comfortable, keeps you warm, a place you can cook food. Every 24 hours, you have to pack up. Every 24 hours. Nobody in their right mind is going to be able to progress in society, get up out of their current situation and make something of themselves with that kind of lot,” D.G. said.
We spoke to several neighbors who had a universal question: What’s being done to clear the homeless from the sidewalks and streets near their homes?
Bend Public Works says they are educating the campers.
“They have been noticed. The 72 hours has expired. We’ll be going over there and seeing if they’ve moved. If they haven’t, we will assist,” said Sherri Meisel, Health & Safety Compliance for the City of Bend Public Works Department. “We will make sure they aren’t still sheltering in that particular place. Per the code, they have to move a certain distance and that kind of thing. We’ve shared that with them. We were over there yesterday trying to help them.”
In addition to moving at least 600 feet or one city block every 24 hours, the city’s new camping code does not allow accumulation of garbage or hazardous materials near campsites.
If campers are notified to leave, they cannot come back to the same location for 14 days.
“I get it. A lot of homeless people are gross. But think about this: If you are told by 80% of passersby that you are worthless and disgusting, your self worth starts to diminish. Eventually, it tears into you so deep, you start to believe it,” D.G. said.
“We are aware. I went out, introduced myself those folks I didn’t know. Most of them I knew, gave them packets with quick reference guide to the new camping code,” Meisel said. “I also let them know, per the guidelines, they can have a 12-foot by 12-footprint.”
The campers I observed on Bronzewood Avenue and 15th Street appeared to be organizing and packing their belongings.
D.G. told me he will try to move outside city limits despite the inconvenience it poses of traveling back and forth.
City officials encourage homeless individuals and the general public to familiarize themselves with Bend’s new camping code so that everyone understands the rules.