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County Commissioner Chris Boice proposes creating new camp for homeless

Plans of proposed homeless camp

This diagram, created by i.e. Engineering, shows a possible layout for a legal homeless camp along Diamond Lake Boulevard proposed by Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice.

There are more than 100 homeless people without shelter in the Roseburg area, according to the Roseburg Homeless Population Study commissioned by the City of Roseburg. Many of them camp at night, some under bridges and others inside tents.

Some community members object to the campers, saying they create a nuisance and leave behind garbage that’s unsightly, bad for the environment and — in the case of discarded drug paraphernalia — unsafe.

The question is, however, if they’re moved out, where are the homeless to go?

Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice has an idea about that. He’s proposed the community create a campsite at which the homeless could find shelter.

The site he’s suggesting is on property across from Phoenix School. There’s a bus stop across the street, a convenience store two blocks down, and no immediate neighbors.

The property is available, as is additional land that would create a buffer between the camp and other properties, Boice said.

While he believes the camp needs to be within city limits so it’s close to services, the location creates a complication in that the city government would have to agree to take on the project.

Some tent campers congregated along the river behind Millsite Park in what was known as Camp Freedom until community members began to clean up and reclaim the area, and the county sold the property. Some still camp on the hill behind the Roseburg Valley Mall and others in the woods not far from the Douglas County landfill.

Although they can’t camp without permission on private property without running afoul of trespassing laws, government officials can no longer criminalize campers purely for sleeping outdoors on public property due to a recent federal court ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling said campers can’t be cited when there are not sufficient unrestricted shelter beds available. The bulk of Roseburg’s available shelter beds don’t qualify as unrestricted under the ruling because they require the appearance of sobriety and attendance at religious services.

“I think most of us at least in leadership positions in the community have come to realize that it’s a very difficult problem and probably doesn’t have any single solution, but one of the things we have to do in order to be able to enforce violations is to provide them a place to be,” Boice said.

Boice convinced i.e. Engineering to volunteer its services creating a site plan. The plan shows several three-sided shelters like baseball dugouts with metal roofs, concrete floors and low voltage electrical outlets. It also included picnic tables, sharps containers for drug needles, lockers and a 24-hour restroom with showers. And there’s a big fence that would prevent it from becoming an eyesore.

The camp could provide a place to stay for between 70 and 100 people, Boice said.

“I get mixed reviews,” Boice said. “Some people say it’s not going to work. Some people say it’s not the right location. Some people say, ‘Hey, it’s a great idea.’”

Boice said he envisions the camp being unstaffed, and some people have complained that will mean people will use drugs and assault each other there. But Boice said that’s stuff that’s already happening where people are camping now.

“Yeah they’re going to do those things in there, but we’re going to be able to immediately access it with law enforcement if they’re doing it there rather than someplace down in a brush pile along the river,” he said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(12) comments


I propose that the homeless camp be placed in Chris Boices' back yard and see how he likes it.


Boice - put this next to your home to show us all how you really believe in it.


A proposed Sobering Center is going in near there, if it gets the funding. I believe ADAPT already has the property and are making plans to build out there.

In case you don't know what a sobering center is, it is kind of like a non mandatory drunk-tank of yesteryear.


I like the idea but only if any homeless person or persons are found to be loitering, sleeping, begging, camping with the city limits immediately be transported to jail and gotten off the streets.

bad location. deal with the mentally ill first.


The way you deal with the mentally ill homeless is to house them. Housing First was developed for severely mentally ill homeless. It has proven to work better than anything else tried in the past few decades.


The city council recently adopted a new Urban Renewal District on highway 138/Diamond Lake Blvd. Your city council adopted special building incentives for new development in that specific district boundary.

The goal to increase housing and economic development.

How does this concept increase interest to build housing and investment properties in this area?

“Welcome to Roseburg” sign is located just before this proposed site. That’s one unfortunate image of Roseburg. Folks traveling to Oregon’s only National Park, Crater Lake, through our small city on the way to explore the coast will get a eye full scattered along diamond lake blvd.

This idea of providing a place for those to destroy is disturbing. A designated location where sex offenders and children are together. Sexual violence and domestic abuse is out of control in our county and the local governments want to work together to provide a place for that activity. Human trafficking and heroine addiction have been on the rise in our areas and this is a designated convenient location to facilitate.

I beg of fellow citizens please insist those who vote to visit and cleanup a illegal camp. Visit and chat with those on the riverbanks. Listen to them tell you they don’t want a designated camp, they don’t want to be told where to go, they want freedom.

What we are looking for to help the unhoused and also our communities won’t be solved by technical engineering. The resolve we seek requires a phycological solution.

Reopen President Roosevelt’s work relief program, make room for a new version of the Civilian Conservation Corp.

Entice a reason to go.

Provide opportunity for mental health treatment, earning general education degree, learning a new trade skill, overcoming difficulties with others alike. Upon completion of this work relief program the individuals would receive letters of recommendation for housing and employment. Anyone willing to lend use of there forestland we can start today


This is an excellent idea! Kudos to Mr. Boice.


Lol.... I think they all should camp at the lawn and door steps of our county court house.... for that land and facilities are already bought and paid for....

BONUS: the Jail is right there....also, the homeless can use Chris's bathroom and visit him everyday at his office. FOR FREE.

We cant pay for a mental health facility, but can pay for a bum camp??? Smfh. Who voted for this moron????


Just a few weeks ago the NR did an article about illegal dumping and quoted Boice as seeing "no proof of increase of illegal dumping being on the rise since the dump fees started here", despite what anyone else with half a brain thats lived here can tell you. I can't help but think of the irony that this idea is coming from a man who outright denies something like illegal dumping. He'll defiantly get his proof after this if it happens! When they pack up and leave all their garbage will he hand out his dump your trash for free cards to clean it all up?

Earlier this month the wooded area between Staples and the church right before Fred Meyer on Garden Valley was excavated and cleared out significantly to run the homeless people out of there that had turned into a base camp. Literally truck loads of garbage were removed from that area, some things even like computers and appliances.......yet again theres no proof of increased dumping according to Boice. Just another thing to keep in mind when his seat is up for election next time.


Good idea, but terrible location. The last hing kids at Phoenix School need is having this type facility located close by as an example of how to succeed at being homeless. Additionally, especially if there isn't any facility supervision, there will be these vulnerable kids attracted there and victimized.

Place this facility outside city limits and neighborhoods, but in walking distance.


Maybe it would actually teach the kids a very valuable lesson about caring and how a community helps to solve a serious social issue in a humane way. However I do understand the concerns and apprehensions people might have.

This location has to do with a kind offer being made. Boice did not go seek it out on his own. Kind of like what could we do with this property to try to help with the homeless problem in our community.

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