Local News

Parolee Housing Plan Loses Deschutes Co. Support

BEND, OR -- Deschutes County is backing off support of a transitional housing facility for parolees at a Wilson Avenue triplex in Bend. Commissioners approved the purchase of the property in December after holding several hearings on the proposalMore than a dozen people testified over two hours during another public hearing on Wednesday - most opposed to the  Commissioners’ previous decision. 

Lawyer and State Senate candidate Mike McLane told County Commissioners he’s been retained by the person living next door to the triplex. He was frustrated with calls by county staff to be compassionate, "We have compassion for those who are released. But ultimately, I’m here today to say, ‘will you have compassion on a neighborhood that is disproportionately impacted by the decisions of the city and the county?’"

Ashley lives near the Wilson Avenue site and is concerned about registered sex offenders, based on what she found online, "In Deschutes County, there are 65 people; 64 of them are men, 41 of them are reoffenders." But Community Justice Department Director Deevy Holcomb says any new crime marks a convict as a "repeat offender." She told Commissioners it could be completely unrelated to the previous charge, "'Did I commit theft? Did I fail to register as a sex offender when I was supposed to? Did I reoffend with a sexual crime?' It usually includes all of that. Sometimes it’s hard to know what recidivism looks like unless you really dig down into what was the new crime."

Commissioner Patti Adair admitted she's having second thoughts about the plan, "I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, folks. What were we honestly thinking of?’ I find it crushing because I know there’s all those other places there." She wants to sell the Wilson Ave. property, "The buck stops with us, and I am not happy with what I did. And I will be the first to admit it." Her request failed to gain traction, but Commissioners voted two to one to search for a new site in Bend or Redmond. "As someone said, we’re taking months and months to locate our landfill," said Adair, "It may take that many months to locate this."

Adair and Commissioner Tony DeBone voted in favor of searching for a new site, possibly in a new development where neighbors would know about the facility prior to moving in. Commissioner Phil Chang was the lone “no” vote … citing a lack of details. He asked, "Where are we going to find the funds to do this?" Adair responded, "Funds keep showing up all the time. I keep hearing about more and more funds." And DeBone added, "Yeah, I’m not offering that solution at this time. This is just a simple clarity item for the purposes of siting in a future residential neighborhood."

DeBone says renovations continue at the Wilson Avenue triplex, and two people are living there. 


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