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Code Changes Could Expand Shelter Capacity 

The Bend City Council heard a report on changes recommended by the planning commission that could get it closer to the goal of 500 shelter beds

The Bend City Council heard a report on proposed shelter code changes at its regular meeting on April 6. The controversial amendments are meant to increase the number of available shelter beds by clarifying zoning requirements for shelters.

The Sounding Board to House our Neighbors, which drafted the new code, is a committee formed by the City and made up of members of the city council, Bend's planning commission and leaders in homelessness, housing and economic development. The Sounding Board held meetings from April to December of last year and surveyed over 850 residents while drafting code amendments.

click to enlarge Central Oregon Villages created site plans for the three proposed sites from the City during its request for proposal period. - COURTESY CENTRAL OREGON VILLAGES
  • Courtesy Central Oregon Villages
  • Central Oregon Villages created site plans for the three proposed sites from the City during its request for proposal period.

The new code differentiates permanent and temporary types of shelters. Temporary types of shelter include hardship shelters, which allow homeowners to let RVs, manufactured homes and mobile homes park on their property for as long as 18 months for someone experiencing housing instability. Temporary shelters can resemble several different types of shelters and are limited to 180 days. They will be allowed in residential zones but only if a building has a non-residential use like a church.

"The proposed amendments to the Bend development code as recommended by the Sounding Board create three new permanent type shelters. It'd be group shelters, outdoor shelters and multi-room shelters," said Pauline Hardie, senior code planner in the meeting.

The new code defines a group shelter as a building that has one or more sleeping areas, like the shelter operated by Shepherd's House on Second Street, while an outdoor shelter is a site without a centralized building but can have tents, tiny homes or RVs. A multi-room shelter, meanwhile, has individual sleeping rooms. The most controversial aspect of the code change allows outdoor shelters to exist in residential areas.

On Feb. 16 the City Council dropped plans to create an outdoor shelter off Ninth Street after backlash over its proximity to two schools, trails and homes. The City Council will do a first reading of the amended code at its meeting on April 20.

Additional codes require shelter operators to prove they've set good neighbor guidelines and to communicate with neighbors before the shelter is running. City staff also emphasized what the code doesn't do, like regulate operations, exempt shelters from general zoning rules, require shelters be built, supersede homeowners' covenants, conditions and restrictions, or regulate camps on public property.

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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