The Redmond Senior Center hosted a forum for the two candidates running for Deschutes County Commissioner Position 3 Tuesday.
Patti Adair, incumbent Republican commissioner, and Morgan Schmidt, Democratic commissioner candidate, both attended.
One of the hot topics of this election season? Homelessness.
“We have a lot of people that are homeless that are doing terrible things. They’re breaking in, they have substance abuse disorders, they’ve got incredible mental illness, but the people we’re talking about really need to get out of homelessness, especially families with kids,” said Adair.
“The more we can offer people stable locations to be, whether that’s camping, safe parking, or low — shelters or transitional housing. The more they can have contact with service providers and get the help that they need,” said Schmidt.
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Safe parking — a program that allows those currently without a home to park their car or RV in a safe place — has been an ongoing discussion in Redmond. How about the county as a whole?
“These people that are a part of their program really need the help. I am supportive of it,” said Adair.
“I fully support the safe parking programs that are going on both in Bend and now in Redmond,” said Schmidt.
The Bend City Council is currently considering a camping code on city property.
“We are actually working on an ordinance currently on what we want to do, but one thing I would make a comment on the Bend code: We need to add storage for those people that are part of a camping situation,” said Adair.
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And Schmidt adding that we need more shelters and safe locations for the homeless.
“I do believe that we need to have more options in place for people before we can really legally enforce people to move or continue going from place to place to place,” said Schmidt.
As fire season comes to an end, wildfires potentially being started by campers was a concern felt by many Central Oregonians.
“I was able to negotiate with the Forest Service and they put a fire extinguisher in each of the campgrounds in China Hat and in Sisters,” said Adair.
“The sooner we can come up with housing options for folks, even if that’s just a safe place to camp that’s low barrier, that’s a place they can go that’s designated, the sooner we’ll be able to have a lot more safety out in our rural lands and out in our forests,” said Schmidt.
Both candidates acknowledged homelessness is becoming a larger issue in Deschutes County, and both are wanting to assist those who have been displaced.