Some of our greatest missions within the Business Association are to work with the City of Bend in an effective effort to clean & beautify Bend’s streets, create a safe environment for residents and visitors, and improve sidewalks and infrastructure to enhance Bend’s lifestyle. With the intent to improve this image, the Bend City Council recently passed Title 4, a new code that bans unhoused people from camping in residential areas, city property and public rights-of-way. These include, but are not limited to, sidewalks, roads, and roundabouts. While the enforcement does not begin until March of next year, many fear that the City of Bend passed the regulation too quickly. Concern over lack of resolutions circulate throughout a community seeking equality AND urban renewal. The question of enforcement lingers as the city has not yet decided who will be responsible for the code’s implementation. Various perspectives cumulate in town as some believe that additional shelter beds are the viable solution, others claim it is an individual’s right to occupy a space longer than 24 hours.
Like previous harsh economic times in history, the pandemic created a spike in homelessness due to financial stress, layoffs, mental health crises, and raising housing costs, and subsequent inflation. It is evident that the influx of people and money in Bend has contributed to sky-rocketing rent and housing. Individuals who plan on spending the holidays in their homes wish for peaceful solutions to remedy homelessness; to share a clean and protected city. While others, living in tents and vehicles express stress and anger toward the camping ban, finding the 24 hour code limiting and “no way to live”.
To come to an agreement, there is often somewhat of a mountain to climb. On a societal level, we must demand nothing short of a dramatic and drastic reprioritization of resources. It is not impractical to strive to achieve a solution that would both enhance the Bend lifestyle AND support and protect its most vulnerable individuals. As we seek to beautify Bend, we also endeavor to end discrimination and provide resolutions for those in need. We support business owners who treat homelessness with respect and resolution, as we work to address how to meet basic needs, while creating an environment that accommodates a beautiful & healthy, community-oriented lifestyle.