By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Every veteran deserves a place to call home.
“We did not have to go in harm’s way because they did, and it’s the least we can do,” said Erik Tobiason, president of the Bend Heroes Foundation.
Tobiason believes he has a solution to end homelessness for veterans in Central Oregon.
His plan: A Veterans Village with transitional shelters to help heroes get back on their feet and one day find permanent housing.
“Ultimately, we’re working with veterans initially,” Tobiason said. “But we’d like this to be a pilot project that the city and county and state could use as a model for the broader homeless population.”
Tobiason presented the idea to Deschutes County Commissioners Monday morning.
After discussing the proposal, the commissioners directed staff to work with the Bend Heroes Foundation and COVO on a draft memorandum of understanding, which will come back to the board in the discussion.
The group is looking for funding from the city, county and state and from local donors.
A location for the veterans village has not been finalized, but the foundation hopes it will go behind the County Public Safety Campus on the north side of Bend near the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
It will be modeled after veteran housing in Clackamas, which Tobiason said has been successful so far.
“Clackamas has already moved 17 homeless veterans into permanent housing in the last twelve months,” he said. “So it’s pretty compelling progress. When I checked in with them this summer it was eight.”
The village will consist of fifteen shelters and a common building with showers, bathrooms, and a kitchen inside.
Construction will hopefully begin late spring…and be finished by fall.
That way homeless vets won’t have to go through another winter.
“These people sacrificed for us, right? It’s the least we can to do help them get back on their feet and get permanent, warm, safe living conditions. It’s kind of the minimum expected from any of our citizens, you know? That’s what we strive for and that’s what we need to provide these veterans.”
If you’d like to learn more or donate, visit https://centraloregonveteransvillage.org/