Homelessness in Bend was at the forefront of a town hall meeting Wednesday night.
The number of houseless individuals in Deschutes County is growing, with more than 1,500 and counting.
Wednesday night was the second of two town hall meetings on strategies and shelter code changes held in the auditorium at Caldera High School.
“I think it was really important to hear people’s questions and peoples concerns and also be afforded the opportunity to answer those questions and sort of share our vision as a city as it deals with houselessness,” said Bend Councilor Megan Perkins.
Guest speaker Alan Evans of “Helping hands Re-Entry Outreach Center” In Portland spoke on issues tonight.
People in attendance were given a briefing on proposed shelter code changes before 11 questions were asked by the panel to County Commissioner Patti Adair, Police Chief Mike Krantz, Perkins and Evans.
“Homelessness is not just about the city, it is not just about the police department, it is not just about the county,” Perkins said. “It is about all of us and how we all respond to this crisis together.”
Some of the questions asked were how will the police department address safety concerns if a shelter is built in a residential neighborhood?
“So our job is to respond to 911 calls and emergency calls,” Krantz said. “We don’t provide a security presence outside of shelters or near shelters. That is really the responsibility of the shelter in accordance with whatever good neighbor agreement that may exist or be put in place.”
Other questions asked how the county and long term planning would work once American Rescue Plan Act funds run out.
“The state and the federal government needs to help us with that funding for substance use disorder and for mental illness,” Adair said.
More than 130 people were there tonight to hear answers to questions they might have.
“If you want your perspectives and your view and your feedback on the record, that is the time to do it,” said Perkins.
If time allows after the hearing, council will make a decision to approve or not approve code changes.