The Redmond City Council this week unanimously approved a program to open up church and business parking lots to the homeless.
“Several weeks ago, we had a single mom whose apartment caught fire, she couldn’t move back into it, she had $11-12,000 a month to pay for an apartment for her and her children, couldn’t find anything, now she is living in an RV,” said Pastor at Mountain View Fellowship Church in Redmond Rick Russell. “That is the kind of story we hear time and again.”
Mountain View Fellowship Church is one place ready to commit to the city’s new safe parking program.
“We are going to provide some simple sanitations like an outhouse and hand washing stations,” Russell said. “In some locations we will be able to provide some electricity, possibly water. So, it is pretty limited in what we are offering, but for some that is enough, a place to put their RV while they quietly live, while we help them get their feet underneath them.”
Russell says safe parking is not for everyone experiencing homelessness, but for those who can’t afford to live anywhere else.
People can only stay for around 90 days.
“There will be strict rules of behavior,” said City Councilor Ed Fitch. “It will be managed by REACH, so there will be oversight on these types of facilities.”
Stacy Witte with REACH says they run background checks and sexual offenses before allowing people to stay.
A safe parking program was started in Bend in June 2020.
Fitch says the program needs to be done right, so as not to affect surrounding neighborhoods.
“It’s doable and has worked in other communities,” Fitch said about the program.
Church officials say they’re confident they can do this program in a way that is respectful to surrounding neighborhoods.
Russell hopes to start the program at his church in a few weeks.
“This is really about serving local families who have simply gotten priced out of affordable housing,” Russell said.