This week, a proposal to aid additional people without homes in Central Oregon collapsed after two Deschutes County Commissioners voted against supporting a supervised camp in south Bend.
The three-person county commission gave its verbal approval to work with the city of Bend last week, indicating that it would use federal cash to cover the costs of providing services on land owned by the city and located on South Highway 97.
City officials were caught off guard when Commissioners Tony DeBone and Patti Adair voted to cancel the proposal on a 3-2 vote on Wednesday. Angry and frustrated locals influenced the outcome, DeBone stated by phone following the voting.
“People buy into a community, a high dollar, very high cost these days community, and there’s just no easy way to site a managed camp for 15 or 30 people,” he said.
The decision was announced in a letter written by DeBone and Adair to Bend officials on Wednesday. The letter notes fears that the $100,000 in county financing through the American Rescue Plan Act may not be enough to cover the cost of the renovation.
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“We provide a lot of resources. It’s awkward for the city to ask us for more,” DeBone said, referring to the county’s role in providing behavioral and public health services and its support for affordable housing developments in Sisters and La Pine.
Bend’s mayor, Melanie Kebler, called a press conference just hours after the vote to express her “shocked and dismayed.”
“The status quo is not acceptable and our community deserves more than broken promises,” Kebler told reporters. “We are not going to be able to open a supported campsite on our own.”
Kebler noted that the scrapped camp plans were meant to help the most vulnerable and medically frail persons find shelter outside of illegal camps.
Officials in Bend have postponed their intentions to clear up a huge campsite in north Bend on March 16 in order to give people more time to find new places to stay. Kebler stated she was uncertain how the city’s new stance on Hunnell Road would be affected by the county’s turnaround.
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