Twice a year, the City of Sisters holds a community conversation event. Thursday night, the focus was homelessness.
The event held by Citizen4Community saw six different panelists speak.
“We hope that with this wide group of individuals, we will be able to go deeper into the problems that Sisters is experiencing with houselessness,” said Citizens4Community Executive Director Josie Newport.
Panelists varied from a city councilor to someone experiencing homelessness.
“We make too much to qualify for low income, and we don’t make enough to get into a house that we can afford,” said Buddy, who is currently living in the Deschutes National Forest. “So, that is why we live in the forest, and we’ve lived there for approximately a year now.”
County homeless services answered questions, as well as law enforcement.
“What the forest service can do it really limits their ability to fix the problem, so to speak,” said Lieutenant Chad Davis with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. “The sheriff’s office does not have jurisdiction on the forest to evict anyone either.”
District Ranger Ian Reed says Sisters has close to 70 unhoused people in the Deschutes National Forest currently but sees about 200 come summertime.
“It’s a chance for us to describe how those dollars are invested and some of the work that we do and some of the other organizations that we partner with,” Reed said.
Each panelist spoke for about eight minutes before the public could either submit written questions or express themselves.
The event lasted about an hour and a half, answering everyone’s questions before it concluded.