The Deschutes County Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a motion to remove “unsafe” encampments from county-owned property.
The county’s Houseless Strategies and Solutions Director, Cheyenne Purrington, testified that officials are aware of the risks to public safety certain individuals present.
“In talks with local law enforcement, including the sheriff’s office as well as service providers who are familiar with that area, there are significant concerns both around criminal behavior, fire risk, significant incidents around violence, gun use,” said Purrington.
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We spoke with a woman who lives next to Juniper Ridge to hear about her experience.
“I told them to tie up their dogs and they told me they would shoot me in the head,” said the woman.
We are protecting this woman’s identity at her request. She is fearful of her unhoused neighbors seeing that she talked to us.
“We had told the officers when they came up that we were threatened to get killed, both me and my neighbor,” she said.
She said she has been scared for years, especially after the fire in August of 2020, started by somebody living nearby in Juniper Ridge that came right up to her property line.
“It came all the way up within probably a hundred feet to my house. It burned some of my neighbors structures down,” said the woman.
After calling 911 multiple times on one encampment, she does not know what else to do.
This situation and others like it is why the Deschutes County Commissioners voted on a motion to remove unsafe camps.
One of the worst encounters the woman says she has had with the homeless living near her:
“My husband was walking our dog right by our house and he said that the pitbull came out of the campsite and it attacked out rottweiler and my dog came out all bloody,” she said. “They had tubes in it and it died two weeks later.”
She told us she does not walk her current dog on her property at all.
The county motion takes effect as soon as it is signed by the county administrator.