BEND, OR -- Oregon’s gubernatorial candidates have released plans on how they would address the state’s homeless crisis; the Homeless Leadership Coalition of Central Oregon now wants to hear from those running in local races. The HLC will host a forum, Friday morning, with nearly a dozen candidates.
John Lodise, with Shepherd’s House Ministries, serves on the HLC's Advocacy Committee, which organized the event. He says homelessness is not a political issue with an easy solution, "Homelessness is a matter of circumstance of the individual. It is not really a category of a certain type of person; it can affect anybody. One of the things I think would surprise people is how many different stories comprise the issue of homelessness." He tells KBND News some politicians only talk about how they would pay for solutions to housing, addiction and mental health problems, but says, "It’s not a dollars and cents question. A lot of the reason people become homeless is they have simply lost trust in the civilization that’s support them, of which they’re supposed to be a part. And usually, that lack of trust comes about through some trauma; and then that trauma can tend to manifest itself in addiction issues, and it becomes a mental health issue."
Friday's forum begins at 8 a.m. at the Bend Elks Lodge. It's free and open to the public. "We have most of the candidates from the Oregon House and Deschutes County Commissioner race, so there will be a broad base of representation there," says Lodise, "Each candidate will have five minutes, openly, to state whatever position they wish to state on the issue of homelessness and/or affordable housing. Once that’s over, the audience will have 15 minutes to ask questions of any candidate on the panel." House District candidates Jack Zika and Eileen Kiely are expected to attend, as well as Cheri Helt, with HD 54, State Rep. Mike McLane and a representative for his District 55 challenger, Karen Rippberger, and District 59 candidate Darcy Long-Curtis and incumbent Rep. Daniel Bonham. Deschutes County Commissioner candidates Amy Lowes, Patty Adair and James Cook also say they will be there.