REDMOND, Ore. - There’s a growing neighborhood in Redmond many pass by every day and never see.
“People just think that it’s a bunch of bums and stuff,” Lane, a member of this community, said Wednesday.
The area east of Redmond -- partly within city limits, partly on Deschutes County and Bureau of Land Management land -- holds a network of makeshift homesteads.
Estimates of how many people are living in the area vary from about 100 to around 400.
“It’s a bunch of good people who are having hard times," Lane said. "Some of them just choose to be out here.
"Everyone seems to be pretty good people. The rowdy ones stay to themselves.”
But a Redmond man who doesn’t want to be identified told NewsChannel 21 he and his wife have had to change their hiking route several times because the makeshift community keeps expanding.
“We were attacked by two dogs, and I’d assume the owner,” he said.
The man said they were attacked not once, but twice, and the owner even took it a step farther.
“He went back to his camp and discharged a weapon into the air or into the ground four, five, six times.”
He said the problem of homeless camps is getting worse, and the area has become dirty and unsafe.
Redmond police Lieutenant Curtis Chambers said it’s been an ongoing problem.
“It’s not a new problem, the area out there has been utilized by those who don’t have a permanent place to live for a number of years," he said. "It’s taken a very long time to get to this point where we find ourselves now.”.
Chambers said police have responded to nearly 60 calls in the area already this year, and while they’re looking for a solution, there’s no easy fix.
“The police department is part of the answer, or part of finding an answer," he said. "But ultimately, going out there and making a bunch of arrests for people who find themselves in desperate situations does not solve the problem.”
Still, some want to see more done. The man who was allegedly attacked said it’s getting to be too much.
“There’s just garbage everywhere, trash, there’s destruction of property," he said. "They’re cutting down trees. So, it’d just be nice to see them cleared out. If there’s going to be a law then everyone needs to follow it.”
The Redmond Police Department is part of the Coalition to End Homelessness and is working to find a solution, but they acknowledge there is no quick or easy fix.