Town of Bend advises homeless campers on Emerson Street to move by June 23

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Cites public health and safety issues; may move temporarily to a nearby low-barrier shelter

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The town of Bend, as expected, notified dozens of Northeast Emerson Street campers on Thursday that the town’s right-of-way will be cleared next Wednesday due to health and safety risks. be an absolute priority in the framework of the new city policy.

The city had recently made its intentions known, sparking concerns from service providers that evicted campers would have no safe place to go, despite various efforts by the city to add shelter beds, find a site for a Managed camp and giving time for relocation efforts are paying off.

Here is the full press release released by the city on Thursday:

The Town of Bend’s new administrative policy helps determine when to remove unsafe campsites from town rights-of-way; Safety on NE Emerson Avenue Top Priority

New property management policy

City Council recently approved an administrative policy that sets out the steps and procedures the City will use to determine when to remove or manage campsites established on City rights-of-way.

The policy is intended to be used to remove campsites established on City rights-of-way that have the greatest impact on public health and safety – including the safety of those residing or camping at a location.

The policy will initially be used in response to growing concerns about a concentrated cluster of campsites established along NE Emerson Avenue between Third Street and US 97, creating public health and safety concerns for those camping there and residents within. proximity, businesses and the traveling public. .

According to the new policy on the management and disposal of campsites established in municipal rights-of-way, when a segment or part of a municipal right-of-way is used as an established campsite and poses a threat to public safety and the environment. use of the right-of-way, the City may consider it to be a “dangerous campground”. An impact assessment identified unsafe camping using assessment criteria such as the number of police service calls, violations of laws or codes, and encroachment on traffic lanes.

Emerson Avenue

The location along Emerson Avenue has been identified as an unsafe campsite. At the June 2 city council meeting, councilors said they wanted to ensure the new policy is only implemented in the Emerson area, until the city has the option. obtain feedback on this effort and assess whether the policy needs to change before considering applying it elsewhere.

“Ensuring the safety of our homeless community members and the traveling public is the City’s top priority in dealing with what is happening on Emerson Avenue,” said City Manager Eric King. “We are grateful to work with trusted partners to support members of our homeless community as we work to provide safe alternatives to camping in the right-of-way.”

As part of the City’s comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness, the City recently partnered with NeighborImpact to open a 70-bed low-barrier shelter for homeless community members. The Shepherd’s House operates the shelter at 275 NE Second Street. Here is a recent press release regarding the opening of this shelter.

Along with approving the policy, councilors asked that staff give two weeks’ notice to service providers before removing established and unsafe campsites. The intention to address security concerns in the Emerson area was communicated to service providers on Monday, June 7.

The city coordinated with REACH, SHARE Project of Shepherd’s House, Deschutes County Homeless Outreach and other service providers to connect individuals and families with resources available through local service providers and agencies.

Next steps

This morning, the City officially advised those camping along Emerson Avenue of the need to vacate the land by June 23. On the morning of June 23, City crews and contractors will close portions of Second Street and Emerson Avenue and begin cleaning up the area and restoring the right-of-way. Access to the area will be limited to service providers, city officials and contractors.

During camp clean-up and restoration, a safe viewing area will be provided at the east end of the intersection of Second Street and Emerson Avenue for First Amendment expressions and media.

Personal property remaining in the right-of-way after the removal of people from the closed area will be stored near the Town Hall and available for pickup by contacting the municipal administration at the Town Hall, in accordance with the administrative policy of the city ​​and in accordance with state law. Those leaving the rights-of-way may choose to temporarily relocate to the Low Barrier Shelter located at 275 NE Second Street.

Once the hazardous campground has been cleaned up and restored, sections of Emerson Avenue will be posted as a no-parking area to allow safe access to the right-of-way and businesses.

Homelessness in Central Oregon and Council Goals

There are nearly 1,000 homeless people in central Oregon every night. This number includes families with children and youth who do not live with an adult. Find out more in Homelessness Facts and Figures in Central Oregon.

To help address homelessness issues, Bend City Council adopted a strategy to “Invest in programs and partnerships that translate into collaborative and concrete actions to end homelessness in Bend”, as part of its 2021-2023 council objectives. This strategy includes creating a five-year action plan, exploring and increasing funding sources, and expanding temporary or permanent housing options.

Support housing exclusion solutions

The Town of Bend works with public agencies and community partners to support solutions to homelessness in the community of Bend. This includes finding ways to keep people in their homes, provide transitional housing and temporary shelters, and increase the availability of affordable housing.

Recently, the city council adopted a secure parking program to allow limited overnight parking in certain places for homeless people and updated the Bend development code to allow temporary housing (shelters) in certain areas. commercials of Bend. The City is in the process of applying for a grant from the state-funded Turnkey Project to convert a motel into a homeless shelter. The state legislature has approved $ 2.5 million in funding to open a navigation center in Bend to support homeless community members.

At its June 16 meeting, city council asked staff to enter into a contract to purchase and sell the property at 275 NE Second Street to establish a permanent low-barrier shelter at the site of a shelter. seasonal. The Sounding Board to House Our Neighbors are working with City staff to make recommendations to update the Bend Development Code to allow the development of different types of shelters in certain zoned districts.

To learn more about the city’s efforts, visit www.bendoregon.gov/homelessness.

For more information on how you can support organizations engaged in this effort, visit www.shepherdshouseministries.org, www.reachoutcentraloregon.org or www.cohomeless.org.


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