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Managed Homeless Camp Could Open In Redmond

REDMOND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners met Tuesday night with the Redmond City Council to discuss the possibility of creating a managed homeless camp on a portion of 45 acres of county-owned land near the airport. 

City Councilor Cat Zwicker also serves on the board for the Coordinated Houseless Response Office (CHRO) and says the current strategy of asking a service provider to develop a property is unlikely to work. She wants the city and county to first get infrasctructure to the site, "I feel like, this is almost a situation of if you build it, they will come." County Commissioner Phil Chang agrees, "I buy the argument that asking a homeless service provider to come in and develop a managed camp versus asking them to come in and operate a managed camp are two very different things. I’m personally very supportive of this proposal." He says there is funding for the project, "Of our remaining America Rescue Plan funds, we’ve allocated $1.5 million, so I would love to have a sense of what we think that $1.5 million could get us." 

Commissioner Patti Adair also serves on the CHRO board and said, "I really believe that we have an opportunity here. We need to get it done sooner rather than later."  She cited the county’s work providing water and portable toilets to campers in Juniper Ridge as an example of how a managed camp could work. Chang agrees that program has been successful, "But, we haven’t provided management. We haven’t provided a space for service providers to come in and support people on their journey out of homelessness."

Redmond City Councilors appeared open to the idea of siting a managed camp near the airport if it's a partnership between the city, county and a homeless service provider. Commissioner Tony DeBone was frustrated the conversation lacked details, saying, "When you say the word ‘managed camp,’ I don’t have a feel for what that means." Commissioner Adair replied, "It means that there’s rules. You don’t leave your trash out." But DeBone still expressed concerns, "There’s a lot of thoughts in each one of our heads about what we think this should look like. And there’s nothing on paper here, now. So, we’re talking about it at a high level. We’ve been doing this for years now, which is frustrating for all of us." 

Mayor Ed Fitch says the property could be ready by next spring. 


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