Neighbors’ reactions to a proposed managed camp for homeless people on Bend’s south end range from a willing to listen to outright opposition.
As details emerge about the proposed camp, located next to the Les Schwab Tire south store, so do the reactions.
Joe Wheeler is concerned about security and safety of his employees and customers at the tire shop.
“We have people coming and going with their vehicles all the time. We do lock their vehicles but we don’t have good visual contact with their vehicles at all times. We can’t monitor the sides of the building where we don’t have windows,” Wheeler, the shop’s manager, said.
He was one of many who testified to the Deschutes County Commissioners Wednesday morning about the proposed managed camp.
The camp on city owned land next door to the tire store would provide space for 20 RVs and 10 tent sites.
Getting homeless off the streets and sidewalks is a necessity for Ed Murrer. But he says the devil is in the details.
“The question is how do you manage the camps? What are the specifics of how people are admitted to the camps? How camp security is administered? Who is managing the camp? What services are being provided at the camp?” Murrer wondered.
With the exception of the Les Schwab Tire store, no other businesses along south Third Street we spoke with wanted to be interviewed on camera. But several told us about problems they are already having with shoplifting, break-ins, theft and vandalism they attribute to homeless people, and that they fear will get worse if the proposed camp moves to the plot of land near them.
“Thing that makes me crazy is the city and county throw out ideas about camps without any details. Consequently, people get upset because they don’t know what’s going on,” Murrer said. “They are looking at this Hunnell Road just being moved down to the south end of Bend. That’s obviously something we don’t want. Hunnell Road has been a disaster with arrests, gun arrests, shootings and all kinds of crazy stuff. We don’t want that in the south of Bend.”
At Wednesday’s meeting, county commissioners described the proposed camp as humanitarian support for homeless people in dire need of medical assistance.
They also said it would help end the cycle of encampment closures and displacement of homeless people.
“What the commissioners said sounds great. If that would be the case that would be tolerable, I think,” Wheeler said. “Nobody wants them next door. We understand this has got to be dealt with at some point. If security and fencing and mental health care and drug use are taken care of, it’s a good start.”
One business owner told us he was considering removing a post he put on Facebook in light of new information about the proposed camp.