Ahead of winter conditions, ODOT to clear Bend homeless camps

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The Oregon Department of Transportation will post notices at some Bend homeless camps this week, giving residents there a couple of weeks to leave.

Peter Murphy, a spokesman for the agency, said crews will post the notices near the Scandia RV park and Colorado off-ramp on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Camps near the Parkway and Revere Avenue will be posted Friday.

Dozens of people have pitched tents or created other structures in the areas near the Parkway as the region’s homeless population has soared in recent years.

“The clean-up has become a significant expense on the part of ODOT and in other cases there are tents, camps, that are approaching our right of way that present a hazard for motorists and for the campers themselves when we get into serious winter weather,” Murphy said. “Giving that it is the on set of wintertime, it’s time to take steps to clean to clean out the camps.”

Murphy said they’ve received many calls about activity at the camps, and it was time to act.

ODOT owns the properties in question.

“In some cases, it approaches criminal activity and in other places, it’s just presenting a safety hazard for us and it’s time to do something about it,” Murphy said. “Basically what we do is we give everybody 10 to 19 days notice to let them know that we’re coming by and it gives them time to collect their personal gear or do whatever they need to do”

▶️ Central Oregon ‘Point in Time’ homeless count shows 40% jump from 2018

Murphy said ODOT has been working in concert with social service providers ahead of the clean-up.

“I think we all look for a reason to kind of justify why things happen and when it comes to homelessness there isn’t a good time of year, especially in Central Oregon,” said Colleen Thomas with the Homeless Leadership Coalition. “We have extreme heat, extreme cold and so that is why there is so much focus on ‘we need long term solutions.”

In March, ODOT worked with local agencies to clean up the areas, but residents were allowed to stay.

“We want to ensure that folks know what their resources are,” Thomas said. “Some of those include the emergency shelter in the city of Bend, we also have long term shelter options, but other than that we don’t have other solutions.”

Over the summer, the population of some of the camps grew after officials evicted about 50 people from Emerson Avenue.

Murphy said the sites would be cleared out and “No Trespassing” signs will be posted after the camps are cleared.

 

 

 

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