BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's Coordinated Houseless Response Office is looking to get input from state and federal agencies impacted by the region's homeless crisis, in order to sway Governor Tina Kotek to allow a sanctioned camp outside Bend’s urban growth boundary; an area that doesn’t currently fit state guidelines.
“I think that the coordinated office, if they could just bring us all together in a room and we talk about how we can triage the situation and start working together and coordinate efforts. I think that that would be a really key next step,” said Megan Perkins, Houseless Response Vice Chair and Bend City Councilor in suggesting ‘an emergency roundtable’, “We had someone that got mauled to death at Juniper Ridge a couple of days ago. We have fires in China hat. You have people that are needing to be moved from place to place. We have an 80% unsheltered rate. I mean, this is a disaster. We are in an emergency.”
The Houseless Response board will discuss on Thursday, July 27th, the structure of a possible meeting with agencies. Perkins, the other board members (elected officials from Sisters, Redmond, and La Pine), and CHRO staff suggested various state and federal entities, such as the Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management, during the Thursday, July 20th meeting. “I would like to see us all really come together in an emergency environment, and talk about how we can handle this as the true emergency that it is and how we can all through our government bodies jointly declare a state of emergency. Because if you look at what a state of emergency is we are there,” said Perkins.
Deschutes County Commissioner and Board Chair Patti Adair has requested to meet with Governor Kotek, “We actually need the state's help in letting us provide a managed camp which is outside the UGB which the governor has said no to. We desperately need that,” Adair says, adding it’s critical for everyone to work together to provide information for the county’s request of the Governor.