The City of Bend will not move forward with a plan for a transitional homeless shelter site at Juniper Ridge, saying it was not feasible under local COVID-19 emergency orders.
At a work session Wednesday night, councilors instead said they will explore updates to the city’s development code that would allow for transitional shelter sites to be developed in other areas of Bend.
Updating the code would provide more options for future sites, Communications Manager Joshua Romero said in a release.
The proposed location of the transitional site north of Cooley Road had drawn criticism from those in the area who said it was too close to local schools and neighborhoods.
At a city council meeting in late October, officials proposed turning six of about 1,500 city-owned acres into a temporary transitional shelter site, where homeless individuals and families could safely camp this winter.
The city held two community listening sessions this week to discuss the plans.
Also on Wednesday, city staff notified the council it will submit an application to the Oregon Community Foundation for state funding to purchase a hotel to serve as a homeless shelter, similar to the model of Bend’s Bethlehem Inn.
The OCF’s “Project Turnkey” was established by the Legislature with the purpose of turning motels/hotels into “non-congregate shelter for people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness.”
There’s $35 million available to 28 Oregon counties for such use.
If the city is selected to receive funding, it would work with NeighborImpact and other social services partners to acquire and manage a motel for community members most in need of stable housing, Romero said.
Councilors also preliminarily approved an ordinance to implement a new construction tax on certain commercial and industrial improvements.
Romero said revenue from the tax will support housing programs, and services and programs for families earning less than 30 percent of the area median income, which is currently $22,980 for a family of four.