By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Some Bend residents are raising concerns about a proposed city-run homeless camp near Juniper Ridge.
The City of Bend is considering a six-acre managed campsite on Juniper Ridge, east of Cooley Road, where the homeless could live until more permanent housing becomes available.
“We are talking about 24/7 camp host service,” said Carolyn Eagan, City of Bend Economic Development Director “It would include some type of sanitation, handwashing, porta potties, shelter trucks… some sort of sanitation because it is dry camping.”
The City has been inundated with comments from neighbors overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal.
“What we’ve seen are people passed out in the community park with their feces right next to them where kids are walking right by them,” said Vickie Johnson, Boyd Acres resident. “We’ve seen drug paraphernalia. Stu and I have picked up syringes next to school grounds. Our dog ate some feces and was partially paralyzed for two days.”
Many are concerned for the safety of students who attend nearby Lava Ridge Elementary and Sky View Middle schools.
“Within this neighborhood, there are 1,300 children that go to the two schools and there’s no bussing. They are either delivered by their parents or they walk,” said Stu Johnson, a Boyd Acres resident. “We are concerned about the encounters that may happen with the homeless population. You never know who you are going to meet or what the condition of that person is.”
Eagan says the proposed managed campsite is in response to the Juniper Ridge fire sparked by a dispersed campsite earlier this year, as well as requests by Burlington Northern to secure railroad crossings which restricts access to other parts of Juniper Ridge.
“The timing is probably months not weeks. The neighbors would know,” she said. “The neighbors would have a full picture of what is going in adjacent to their homes. We have work to do with the business community adjacent to that location.”
Other transitional shelter sites are being considered but with an estimated 1,000 people currently homeless in Bend, the problem is immediate.