By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Virtual meetings Tuesday and Wednesday could change a Bend neighborhood forever.
“This is a wonderful place,” Boyd Acres resident Gregg Collins said. “This is why I invested my entire life savings, to buy a house, and live here.”
Collins has lived in the Boyd Acres neighborhood for three years.
He’s afraid the proposed temporary transitional shelter site at nearby Juniper Ridge will cause the quality of life in his area to suffer tremendously.
“Do we really want a single mother living by heroin addicts, alcoholics and people with mental health issues and I am not saying that all homeless people have all of those problems, but a lot of homeless people have issues,” Collins said.
Collins was on a homeless task force in Central California before coming to Bend and says he knows first hand this shelter will not work.
“That’s part of the problem we dealt with in California,” Collins added. “What do you do when somebody moves in, but doesn’t want to move out? You can’t evict them per the courts.”
Reverend Erika Spaet is Collins’ neighbor and is all for having the temporary homeless shelter in the neighborhood.
“This is a moment, considering COVID, Considering so many complexities, housing prices, so many pressures on people’s lives,” Spaet said. “This is a moment to adapt and act quickly so we can save people’s lives.”
Spaet is also concerned about the health of the homeless population.
“Something like this is a way for people like this to be still looped into services, so they can be well and healthy and safe,” Spaets added. “Saying well go somewhere else, you are on your own, to me is more dangerous to our community.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 30 people registered to speak at an evening listening session, hosted by the city.
Economic Development Director Carolyn Eagan is hoping for productive feedback.
“All these comments we will be getting tonight really is helping us determine, is this site really feasible, does it meet the requirements that we will need for a site, that the community would have for a temporary transitional housing site and can we get a contract for a local contract with a local service social provider to manage the camp,” Eagan said.
Another virtual meeting is set for Wednesday afternoon.