Deschutes County on Monday approved a new “supported” homeless camp to operate in southern Bend off of Highway 97. This move comes as March 16 approaches: The day Hunnell Road on the other end of town is set to be cleared.
The location is on a triangle of land just south of the Les Schwab Tire Center located next to the Murphy Road and Highway 97 roundabout.
“The city identified this [land] which would be eligible for their safe parking program,” said Erik Kropp, the deputy county administrator.
He said the new camp site will be in operation in two months at the earliest.
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The “supported” part means that the city will hire a nonprofit service provider to look after the unhoused in the camp.
Who will be in charge of the operation has yet to be decided.
“Things have been happening very quickly,” said Kropp.
Things have moved too quickly for some neighbors nearby.
“It was a shock to us,” said Noemy Moreno, a Bend woman who lives across the street from the proposed site. “It just randomly popped up and we weren’t consulted at all.”
The county confirmed that it has not sought public opinion.
“We haven’t yet , and I know the city might have some earlier conversations when they were looking at that piece of land, but in terms of this specific proposal, there hasn’t been,” said Kropp.
While Debra Fisher, another neighbor, is also concerned about the lack of communication, she is not opposed to having unhoused neighbors.
“They have to have some place to go,” said Fisher. “So maybe I’ll be the first one in my neighborhood to make a pot of soup, take it over and feed them.”
She has lived in Bend since 1990 and said she wishes the City of Bend had addressed the homeless issue sooner.
“I think people get frightened. They think with homelessness comes drug addicts and insanity and crime, well yeah, that comes with any part of our society, but pigeon holing those poor people is not going to help them get back on their feet again,” said Fisher.