Hunnell Road residents said Thursday they are relieved by a decision from the City of Bend to postpone removal of their camps and trailers.
The City said the removal cancellation is due to “a change in plans by the Deschutes County Road Department and a commitment made Monday by the Deschutes County Commissioners to establish a site for people to go” — that site being the proposed managed camp just south of the Les Schwab Tire Center along Highway 97.
March 16 was the original date the road was set to be cleared.
“It comes as a great relief,” said Smokey, a man who has lived on Hunnell Road for years. “Without having a secondary place for people to go right now, going to China Hat Road or to Dirt World for some is not a really good solution or safe place for them to be.”
China Hat Road is in south Bend and is home to hundreds of homeless camps. Juniper Ridge is China Hat’s northern counterpart off of Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond.
“Hearing that there’s a postponement, that’s good because if I don’t make enough money to get an apartment which is impossible to get these days-renting a room is even harder-so I end up sleeping in a van,” said William, another man living on Hunnell.
He has lived there for three weeks and told us he just fixed the breaks on his van and needs to replace the two front tires before he is able to leave.
“I’m trying to get the hell out of here, because it sucks here,” he continued.
When asked if they would be comfortable moving to the city-approved campsite in south Bend, the two men, Smokey and William, said ‘yes.’
“Absolutely, I would love to have water and a bathroom and some facilities and a garbage can. Absolutely, I would,” answered William.
Smokey said his willingness to live in an approved camp is conditional: “I wouldn’t have a problem with it, as long as it doesn’t have a fence, and I can come and go as I want.”
The city said there will be a fence.
“That’s going to be interesting because then they won’t have anybody in it,” said Smokey.
We spoke with a few businesses across from Hunnell Road, but no one was willing to speak with us on-camera.
Most of the managers and owners are frustrated by the postponement.
They recalled stories of theft, public defecation in front of their businesses, vandalism and other bad experiences from Hunnell Road.
The City of Bend has not declared a new date for the removal of those living on Hunnell. It said it wants to wait until the new South Bend campsite is complete.
There is no clear timeline for that camp, but the county previously told us it could take months.