City Pauses Homeless Camp Evictions | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

City Pauses Homeless Camp Evictions

The City of Bend planned to post 30-day notices to vacate Juniper Ridge this week. Instead, they may establish a managed camp.

The City of Bend is backing off plans to post 30-day eviction notices at Juniper Ridge, an encampment for people without homes in northeast Bend.

The camp has become a semi-permanent refuge for dozens of unhoused people over the last decade. The City wants to build a sewer pipeline directly through an established tent village in order to provide infrastructure for additional housing and commercial development in the area.

click to enlarge City Pauses Homeless Camp Evictions
Laurel Brauns - File Photo
An established camp site at Juniper Ridge. Currently, 25-30 camps remain in the wooded area at the end of Cooley Road.

Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. - CDC guidelines regarding encampments during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Two weeks ago, the Source reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against clearing encampments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers,” the CDC guidelines read.

Gov. Kate Brown also ordered cities and counties to come up with a plan to help people without homes during the pandemic on April 14. She said she would not allow regional economies to open without a plan in place.

Meanwhile, the Homeless Leadership Coalition wrote a letter on April 15 to Sgt. Nathan Garibay, head of the Deschutes County Emergency Operations Center, outlining the public health threat facing some of the most vulnerable people in Bend who survive day-to-day without shelter.

As of today, it is unclear why the City decided to change course, but on April 24, Shelly Smith, senior management analyst for the City of Bend, sent an email to a number of people in the housing advocacy community to alert them that the City had decided to pause the evictions.

Smith said that City staff plan to present an “overview on land feasibility options for long-term managed camps,” at the May 6 Bend City Council Meeting Work Session.

“The primary focus of this presentation is an overview of current zoning, codes, and infrastructure parameters for the Council to consider,” she said.

One possible site under consideration for a managed camp is the City-owned land north of the current tent village at the end of Cooley Road near the Les Schwab Tire Center Headquarters.

When asked to elaborate on the City’s plans for a possible managed camp, Smith told the Source she is still working on a presentation for City Council, which will focus on land use regulations.

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