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During last week’s Bend City Council meeting, the City took action on multiple items to advance homelessness and housing strategies:
- Council directed staff to pursue code amendments to allow for the development of transitional shelter sites and other facilities to address homelessness in Bend.
- City staff announced they are submitting an application for State funds to purchase a motel to house community members experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness.
- Councilors preliminarily approved an ordinance to implement a new construction tax on certain commercial and industrial improvements. Revenue from the tax will support housing programs, and services and programs for families earning less than 30 percent of the area median income.
Transitional Shelter Sites
On October 21, the Bend City Council supported a staff plan to explore options for a temporary transitional shelter site on City-owned property in Juniper Ridge. During last week’s work session, Council received an update on those options from City staff. A feasibility review of a potential site at Juniper Ridge determined it was not feasible to develop a temporary transitional shelter site under local COVID-19 emergency orders. The City is not pursuing a temporary transitional shelter site at Juniper Ridge at this time.
City staff will now explore updates to the Bend Development Code that would allow for transitional shelter sites or other facilities to address homelessness to be developed throughout Bend. Updating the development code would provide more options for developing shelter sites, which are relatively limited under current development code.
As with all development code updates, the City will hold public hearings for community members to provide input on proposed code changes for shelter sites prior to adopting them. It is anticipated that proposed code changes may go to Council for review and adoption in late spring of 2021. The City will provide more information on the public input process for the development code updates after a timeline for the project and dates for public hearings are established.
Also last Wednesday, City staff notified Council that they are submitting an application to the Oregon Community Foundation for State funding available through Project Turnkey. The program provides $35 million to cities, counties, housing authorities, or 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to acquire motels or hotels to use as non-congregate shelters for people experiencing homelessness or at-risk of homelessness. If the City is selected to receive funding, it would work with NeighborImpact and other social services partners to acquire and manage a motel for community members most in need of stable housing.
Finally, the City Council supported an ordinance to implement a new commercial and industrial construction tax with a first reading of the ordinance. The proposed tax would be used to fund programs for housing and support, services and other programs for people making up to 30 percent of area median income, which is currently $22,980 for a family of four.
This construction tax will be one-third of one percent of the total valuation of new building permits issued for commercial and industrial improvements that result in a new structure or additional square footage. This is a new tax, and is separate and distinct from the City’s Affordable Housing Fee. It will go into effect no sooner than March 1, 2021. To learn more, read the proposed code for the construction tax.
The tax is estimated to provide up to $581,000 in revenue per year to support the critical community needs listed above and will be distributed by a formal request for proposals process, similar to the allocation of existing Affordable Housing Fee and Community Development Block Grant funds.
Continuum of Housing
Temporary transitional shelter sites are one of many possible short-term solutions to help address homelessness in Bend. To learn more about temporary transitional shelter sites, visit the Temporary Transitional Shelter Sites page.
Mid- and long-term solutions, like generating revenue to support housing and other critical services, and acquiring housing facilities, are also necessary to support community members as they transition out of homelessness and into stable housing. To learn more about the continuum of housing needed in Bend, visit the Emergency Homelessness Task Force page.
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