A land exchange deal from 2015 between the state of Oregon and Deschutes County has one more step: Clearing the homeless population off of 137 acres of land east of Redmond.
“They don’t have the means of moving their trailers,” said Cody Ledbetter, a man that lives off of East Antler Avenue in his trailer. “They’ll lose a lot.”
The deal was supposed to be closed in 2022, but the state raised concerns about the unhoused people living on the land it was receiving.
Ledbetter has been unhoused for six months. He says there are hundreds of people living on the 137 acres of land.
“There’s dozens of communities out here,” said Ledbetter.
This communities have up to 20 to 30 people, according to Ledbetter.
Central Oregon Daily News did not see any of these communities during our brief visit Wednesday, but reporter Morgan Gwynn did not want to risk driving the news car through more rough terrain in the area.
The county says it’s figuring out a way to move everyone.
“Internally, we’re working on a plan, like a project plan, that would include working with service providers and assessing the encampments and the individuals in those encampments and seeing what kind of services they can be connected with,” said Kristie Bollinger, the Deschutes County Property Manager.
The other piece of land is south of the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. That 140 acres is owned by the state, but when the exchange is complete, the additional acreage will be used to expand the fairgrounds.
As for the property east of Redmond?
“The property that DSL would acquire from the county, that would be large-lot industrial. So that would be eventually sold and proceeds from that would go to the common school fund,” said Bollinger.
First, all the homeless people have to go.
“I hope the county doesn’t kick everybody out of here,” said Ledbetter. “I mean, if they do, I hope they give us some place to go or an area to move to. At least, maybe a means of moving, helping us move our stuff.”
The county said it won’t move anyone until a plan is in place. Once everyone is cleared out of the East Antler property, the land exchange will go through.
The county also said specific dates have not been decided.