BEND, OR -- Plans to clear the unsanctioned homeless camp at Hunnell Road remain stalled after Deschutes County Commissioners backed out of a deal to help create a managed camp.
Bend City Manager Eric King says the city doesn’t have the financial capacity to take on such a project on its own, but help could soon come from the state, "There’s some potential additional resources coming from the Governor’s budget and, it might not be the city, but other providers that are trying to expand services." King tells KBND News, "The Governor’s budget dedicated $130 million. It looks like it’s going to pass this week. There’s funding going out to regions of the state, Central Oregon’s slated to get about $14 million. There are some proposals from local service providers to expand capacity in the system."
He says applications are already submitted for that funding, "We hope to hear back by the end of this month, which projects are selected. As I’ve been hearing, the Governor plans to sign - I think it’s passed the House and on to the Senate. I think this is a high priority, so the sense of things is the money will come shortly thereafter, in the next couple of weeks."
Trying to clear unsanctioned camps, like at Hunnell Road or China Hat, without more programs in place just spreads the problematic situation to another neighborhood, says King. It's a sentiment echoed recently by Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang. King says Bend has created more shelter space in the past two years, but not enough for the estimated 100 people living at Hunnell Road, "It’s a very fluid system. So, folks might stay at a shelter one night, they might graduate to a hotel room that’s part of the Stepping Stone shelter, so there’s movement. I think we’d like to see a little more capacity in the system to accommodate folks. But I don’t think it’s possible to construct a space for everybody; we don’t have the resources. And that’s some of the challenge that we are facing at the city."
To hear our full conversation with City Manager Eric King, visit KBND's Podcast Page.