The Redmond City Council is allocating several funds to help the homeless in the community, and the topic was a key focus of Tuesday night’s council meeting.
The public kicked off the meeting with topics that ranged from illegal street bikes to golf course contracts to free speech. But subject that keeps getting brought up by the public is marijuana dispensaries in the city.
“Should your energy be focused on treatment facilities instead of marijuana dispensaries?” asked one commenter. “There are state funds to do so.”
Mayor Ed Fitch says this marijuana discussion isn’t the city’s top focus.
“Marijuana has not been on our agenda yet,” Fitch said. “Yet it seems to be on other people’s agenda. We’re probably going to not address this until late spring because we’ve got so many significant priorities ahead of it. Homelessness, affordable housing, transportation, growth management. So we will bring it up. I think it’s worthy of discussion, and we’ll do it late spring.”
A major item at the meeting was a continuation of dialog and public hearings on regulating unhoused camping on public property.
“If we can send people to the moon, this is something we can deal with,” said one commenter. “We can find homes which are safe and secure for those who need them.”
“Instead of a small family-friendly community that takes pride in its town, Redmond has become a harbor for addicts who appear to have more rights than those of us who go to work and pay our taxes,” said another.
After feedback at the last council meeting, Tuesday’s discussion focused on prohibiting camping in the entirety of the Dry Canyon Park, residentially zoned areas, and creating a 1,000-foot buffer from schools instead of 500 feet.
“I know that we’re going to be very protective of parks, of the Dry Canyon and other residential streets,” Fitch said. “These are, you know, existing neighborhoods where people expect their neighborhoods not to be infringed upon.”
The council also discussed allocating nearly a million dollars from a state affordable housing grant. The grant must address housing insecurity, lack of affordable housing, or homelessness.
Of the nearly $1 million, around $450,000 is going to Shepherd’s House Ministries and Housing Works, which deals with affordable housing. The Safe Parking Program receives $28,000 and the rest is given to Habitat for Humanity.
Central Oregon is getting millions of dollars more to help with the homeless crisis from Governor Tina Kotek’s Homeless Response Package. According to the City of Redmond, an estimated $14 million will head to the tri-counties.
Funding is targeted for homeless prevention, increasing shelter capacity, and rehousing unsheltered people.
Mayor Fitch says priorities for those funds are establishing Oasis Village, which are tiny homes for homeless people, and RV parking East of town.