Bend Advisors Discuss Removal of Emerson Avenue Homeless Camp

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Last month, the town of Bend closed the Emerson Avenue homeless camp in southeast Bend after declaring it unsafe to public health and safety in the part of a new policy.

At Wednesday night’s council meeting, city staff and councilors discussed an after action report summarizing what went well with the camp closure and removal, and what needs to be improved upon. to come up.

According to city staff, the majority of the homeless had left before the official closure of Emerson Avenue on June 23.

The city has provided what it says is clear, consistent and timely communication with campers ahead of the closure so that individuals can prepare to leave.

Service providers have also been allowed to help campers with packing and moving, to help people transition to places like Bend’s Shepherd’s House, among others.

Bend’s home cooking program director Donna Burklo said campers had access to phones within minutes of closing, equipment, coffee, water, food and they had access to also received the necessary medications or prescriptions.

Burklo added that the campers said the Bend police were “kind” and “respectful” during the process.

Councilor Megan Perkins asked service providers if any people who had been fired had been lost in the process and, if so, where had they moved.

Another service provider, REACH Executive Director Stacey Witte, says the majority of campers have dispersed, moving 2-4 times since the closure.

“A good number of people have been to Hunnell Road,” Witte said. “I have a handful of people who left Emerson and headed for the DRW (Deschutes River Woods) area.”

Witte said others have also dispersed to the railroad and canal areas across Bend. And all agreed that the various efforts to find safe places, like a managed camp, are the real answer that cannot come soon enough.

“We all know that’s the long term goal, is not to have another Emerson pop-up, or a Hunnell road or behind Space Age (Fuel),” Witte said. “This is where we need to fill this gap in services.”

Several speakers at the visitors’ section of the first council meeting in a month, some who speak frequently at meetings, berated councilors for evicting residents with no safe place to go. One of the men forced to leave was one of two men who died days later in record heat at the Hunnell Road campsite.

While the state’s medical examiner later determined that the cause of their death was unrelated to the heat, some speakers on Wednesday evening fiercely attacked the advisers, accusing them of “murder” and killing them. men with their policies. We were not allowed to speak further for violating council rules regarding such direct attacks.

NewsChannel 21’s Alec Nolan will have more of the reunion later tonight on First at Ten on Fox.

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