Portland’s homeless problem spreads to island

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A viral video shared on You Tube, and brought to the attention of Portland Parks and Rec by KOIN 6 News, shows homeless encampments on a small island in North Portland.

“It first came on the radar when KOIN 6 News asked us about it, as a matter of fact,” says Mark Ross with Portland Parks and Rec.

Moore Island is several hundred yards long and sits in the Columbia Slough between Columbia Blvd. and Heron Lakes Golf Course. It’s home to wildlife and trees, and now, homeless campers.

“We want to preserve the integrity of the habitat and the wildlife that lives there and it’s just not suitable,” says Ross. “No park or natural area in our city is suitable for people to live in.”

But cleaning up the island could prove difficult and expensive. The parks department doesn’t have a boat large enough to handle debris removal. Also, they will have to post a notice of intent to remove the campers before they can begin cleanup.

“We’ve asked our partners at Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office River Patrol to help. The river patrol is going to go and do an assessment by boat over the next couple of days,” Ross tells KOIN 6 News. “Of our 200 plus properties, almost all of them are land based so this is a unique challenge.”

The video, posted by a user called Drone Man, has stirred up internet message boards around Portland. One person posted that there could be booby traps on the island.

“When we saw the drone footage, and we heard about potential people living there, we may have to do something about it,” Ross says.

The city hopes to have a plan in place in the next couple of weeks.

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