The Bend City Council approved the first planning phase of a managed village for the unhoused at its regular meeting on June 1. If approved after Phase 1 the village will consist of 20 Pallet-brand structures on about 2 acres of land leased from the Desert Streams Church on 27th Street.
Central Oregon Villages will operate the village and in the coming months must secure the site and refine its design, track and respond to community feedback and keep City staff up to date with its progress. The proposed shelter would operate under the stipulations outlined in House Bill 2006, a 2021 bill that required cities to approve shelters if they met certain criteria, including complying with building codes, access to transportation and assessing health and safety risks.
If Central Oregon Villages is successful in Phase 1 it will need to come back for approval to place the 20 structures. The nonprofit said it will prioritize women and children as tenants, will have a coordinated entry and exit system, have portable toilets and water stations, daily food deliveries and have a mobile shower truck visit regularly. It would be a high-barrier shelter, meaning people wouldn't be able to use drugs or drink alcohol, and must participate in case management and maintain the area.
“The neighbors are talking about drug use, people using the street for a bathroom, crime and graffiti in that area by people who are living in unmanaged camps so it’s true in an unmanaged camp situation these things do exist and our proposal is to turn that around and have managed camps.”—Jim Porter
During public comment about a dozen people spoke against the proposed plan, fearing reduced property values and increased crime. Former Bend police chief and President of Central Oregon Villages Jim Porter said people's fears are justified, but misaligned.
"The neighbors are talking about drug use, people using the street for a bathroom, crime and graffiti in that area by people who are living in unmanaged camps—so it's true in an unmanaged camp situation these things do exist, and our proposal is to turn that around and have managed camps," Porter told the Council.
The City paid Central Oregon Villages an amount not to exceed $45,300 out of $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds earmarked for an outdoor shelter. The agreement between the City and Central Oregon Villages expires on Dec. 31. Central Oregon Villages will have to come back for further approval for Phase 2, at which point it can install the Pallet structures and begin operations.