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City leaders pushing to move new homeless camp out of Portland natural area

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  • February 2, 2018
  • Comments Off on City leaders pushing to move new homeless camp out of Portland natural area

Eviction notices are up now at a new homeless camp that sprang up over the weekend on Northeast 171st Avenue and Airport Way.

The new tent city is not near any neighborhoods but rather in a natural area with fragile wetlands and streams.

There are only about five residents so far, but they have already named the new site the Village of Hope.

Portland city officials have said the camp cannot legally be on the site and that the campers will have to move or face the possibility of arrest.

That ultimatum sparked a protest at City Hall Wednesday morning during a council meeting, as about a dozen homeless advocates carried signs in support of the new camp.

A few of the advocates actually disrupted the meeting, shutting down the proceedings for a few minutes before the protesters were thrown out.

Those advocates contend the city is not doing enough to solve the homeless crisis. Some of the protesters Wednesday also said they feel that some officials were criminalizing the homeless population.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz released a statement on the issue, saying “houselessness is not a crime” but also noting that parks are for everyone, “open for settlement by particular groups.’

"Throughout my nine years in office, I have supported community-led solutions to addressing Portland’s housing and shelter shortage – most recently, a four-year-long effort to relocate Right 2 Dream Too to its current location in the Lloyd District. In the past year, the City and Multnomah County have allocated over $52 million to transitional housing, shelter, rent assistance and mental health/addiction services. While these resources and coordination efforts have not resulted in enough places to house everyone immediately, significant progress has been made. Houseless community members deserve sustainable, permanent solutions, and shelters near good transit and services."Houselessness is not a crime. Yet parks are for everyone, not open for settlement by particular individuals or groups. Encampments are not sustainable in a park or natural area, neither of which are designed to have people living there. Big Four Corners is an important natural area in outer Northeast Portland and Gresham, with fragile wetlands and streams. It is far removed from basic services. It is not an appropriate place to house people."Park Rangers will be coordinating with social service providers to connect campers with appropriate resources, and keep this park for its intended public purposes."

Fritz said the city and county have spent $52 million in the last year to help the homeless and promised the city will help the campers at Village of Hope find resources and services.

Organizers at the site like Steve Kimes said they believe they are helping the area, bringing organization and cleanliness that wasn’t here before.

“A lot of the people who are here are people who have already been sleeping here,” Kimes told FOX 12. “All of their items stay on the platform and we pick up trash every day.”

Kimes added that feels that the shelter beds being offered to people staying in the camp are not a great solution.

“Most of the folks are like, ‘Well, we’re not looking for shelter, we’re looking for a permanent solution,’” he explained. “This was the shelter that they could deal with right now, not being in a room with a bunch of other people.”

Prior to the protests, business people from the central east side pleaded with the commissioners to do more to help with livability issues and the growing crime problem in their part of the city. Some even offering to help find larger solutions for city issues.

Some like Kate Merrill of the Central Eastside Business Council said they want to work with the city "to find really constructive and innovative solutions to dealing with the homeless, dealing with the problem and getting people into homes."

“We just want to work with the city in finding really constructive and innovative solutions for dealing with homeless, for dealing with this problem and getting people into homes,” business owner Kate Merrill told FOX 12.

Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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