City of Bend hosts virtual open house for Project Turnkey
The City of Bend will be hosting a virtual community open house to share an update about Project Turnkey-Bend from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 25.
The open house will include an update on the City’s plans for remodeling a recently-purchased motel to create emergency shelter units, including images of the proposed renovations and a timeline for completing the improvements. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
Attendees can view the open house two ways. Community members can participate and ask questions by registering through Zoom. Another option is to watch the livestream of the open house without participating; no registration is required for this option. The registration link and livestream of the virtual open house are both available at bendoregon.gov/project-turnkey.
The City of Bend was awarded $2.97 million in state funding from Project Turnkey to purchase a motel property and remodel it for use as a managed shelter. Located at 2346 NE Division St., the City will open the shelter after remodeling the 8,895 square-foot building and making improvements to the property. Once remodeled, it will provide 28 rooms for shelter use.
For more information on Project Turnkey visit www.bendoregon.gov/project-turnkey.
City Council Authorizes Purchase of Motel
At its meeting Wednesday, the City Council approved buying the 1.03-acre site at 154 NE Franklin Avenue, which includes the Rainbow Motel, for $4.55 million.
The City will purchase the motel with General Fund dollars and be able to use it for any desired use allowed in that zone.
The purchase of the motel is an opportunistic public investment that could meet a variety of short-term and/or long-term community needs, including but not limited to an immediate need for transitional shelter as well as a future possible site for City Hall, affordable housing, a civic plaza or other public uses.
City Council goals include creating temporary or permanent housing for 500 homeless individuals, creating 1,000 rent- and price-restricted housing units, developing housing-specific strategies in the Core Area, and stimulating redevelopment opportunities in the Core Area.
Council Update on Temporary Housing Strategies
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Councilor Megan Perkins shared an update on the City’s temporary housing strategies. The update fell into three categories: 1) Temporary housing capacity, 2) Efforts to improve efficiencies and partnerships, and 3) Efforts to manage the City’s rights-of-way. Because of the broad community interest in housing and houselessness, Councilors have added a new standing agenda item to Council business meetings to provide regular updates on work on addressing houselessness. Highlights from this update include:
- Progress increasing the community’s temporary housing capacity:
Bend has 20 to 30 sites in development.
City staff are continuing to review the two proposals received from Central Oregon Villages for the outdoor shelters. They are for:
- A Senior Women’s Shelter (10 sites), location to be determined
- Tiny Home Units (6 sites), location to be determined
- Review committee members met with the proposer last week as part of the review process.
- No decisions have been made yet on either of the proposals or where proposed outdoor shelters may be located in Bend.
- Any decision to award contracts for either outdoor shelter proposal would likely go to the City Council for approval in February.
- Once awarded a contract, the organization will conduct neighborhood outreach.
Also, St. Vincent DePaul has a 10-unit village under construction, with anticipated completion in March, 2022.
Division Street Shelter (Project Turnkey):
- This is a recently purchased motel that the City bought to remodel and create emergency shelter units.
- It will be a low-barrier shelter with a 28-room capacity.
- A contract with NeighborImpact is being developed to operate it.
- The earliest possible use of this facility would be this winter, with renovations occurring in Summer 2022.
- The City of Bend is hosting a virtual community open house to share more information from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 25. See more information about virtual open house for Project Turnkey.
2nd Street Shelter:
- This is a designated permanent warming shelter, operated by Shepherd’s House with a capacity of 90 beds.
- The facility is consistently full.
- The City has received a proposal to operate the location as a Navigation Center, which is a place where services are offered.
- The City is evaluating the proposal and anticipates a contract to come to City Council in February.
Safe Parking Program:
- This program, which allows some property owners to provide limited overnight parking, currently has 12 spots available.
- The City is promoting the Safe Parking Program with local nonprofits, businesses and faith communities to encourage them to become Safe Parking partners.
- Staff is connecting interested partners with details about the program and with REACH to learn more about how to provide case management and support services if they would like to become program partners.
2) Efforts to improve efficiency and partnerships:
- Bend is moving toward a “Joint Office on Homelessness.”
- The City of Bend / Deschutes County application included in the legislation that would fund several pilot projects across the State has been approved, providing $1 million to help cover costs associated with this coordinated approach.
- This legislation and funding will be considered in the upcoming legislative session which begins in February.
- A joint City / County meeting to discuss this concept and other partnership projects is planned for January 28.
3) Efforts to manage the City’s Rights-of-Way to improve health and safety:
- City staff meet regularly with area service providers to coordinate resources and assess challenges in providing support for individuals camping throughout the city.
- City staff continue to distribute garbage bags, resource lists, and fire prevention brochures to individuals experiencing houselessness.
- Staff is working on a more user-friendly way for community members to submit requests for services in the right-of-way, to respond to public health and safety issues.
- Staff have met with business owners in the Central District regarding access and safety concerns.
- On January 10, a City contractor cleaned up 5,340 pounds of waste in the Central District off of 2nd Street. They also picked up 30 shopping carts, pressure washed them, and returned them to the stores.
- Staff and contractors have posted notices requiring camps in the Central District around 2nd Street to remove sidewalk obstructions. These are not eviction notices. They are communications about the need to keep sidewalks open. The City worked to clear obstructions on sidewalks within rights-of-way on 2nd Street that were preventing pedestrians from using the sidewalks.
- The City has posted no parking signs in catch basins along the west side of Hunnell Road to allow the City to maintain infrastructure.
There are about 1,000 people experiencing houselessness in Central Oregon on any given night, including families and youth. There are people with no place to go. Being homeless is not a crime. Cities can’t impose sanctions on a person for being homeless. Police can address criminal issues and will do so when circumstances warrant that.
A city’s ability to regulate sleeping in its public places is directly related to a community’s ability to provide shelter for homeless individuals who might otherwise need to use public places to sleep. When we develop more shelter beds for our unhoused community members, we can provide them a safe place to go instead of them simply moving on to another public space to sleep.
Until there are more places for people to go, the City is limited in how it manages camps in public places.