Early Thursday morning, the Oregon Department of Transportation started to clear camps from the Highway 97 on-ramp off Revere Avenue in Bend.
“Notices for this area were posted on Saturday the 18th, hopefully giving people enough time to find a safer place to be before we started the work,” said ODOT Public Information Officer Kacey Davey.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were no incidents of resistance or violence.
RELATED: How new $200M homeless, housing fund will affect Central Oregon
RELATED: Homeless advocates researching ‘affordable RV park’ on Redmond’s east side
If a camper did refuse to leave, it’s not up to ODOT to force them out.
“Law enforcement are really the ones that have the legal authority to have people leave a property,” said Davey
ODOT told us local homeless assistance organizations were notified of the sweep.
“Every time we post a camp, an email goes out that’s an interagency email so we notify all of the service providers in the area, you know, REACH and COVO, Shepard’s House,” said Davey.
We spoke with Shepard’s House Ministries’ Director of Development Dave Notari about how this clean-up will affect shelter capacity.
“We know the impact likely will be minimal. A lot of the folks who live in encampments like that really don’t access shelter services,” said Notari.
Shepard’s House also said it offers help and tries to prepare people for a sweep as best they can.
“We’re there just to assist with moving and providing just care and a listening ear,” said Notari.
After campers move off of the on-ramp, ODOT has limited ways to keep them from moving back.
“This area is signed ‘no trespassing’ and we’ve moved some big boulders in there to try and deter folks from coming into this area,” said Davey.
She told us the main reason for the sweep was safety.
“If a car leaves the roadway or has a crash for some reason, we don’t want these people to be in harm’s way and also we just don’t have the funding and the ability and the staffing to be managing camps,” said Davey.
The crew that cleaned up the area sorted through items to determine what is trash and what is personal property. The personal property is then put into storage, where unhoused people have up to 30 days to claim their stuff.