PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Parents are growing concerned after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced an emergency declaration to prevent camping along safe routes to schools.
During Wednesday’s city council meeting, a Southeast Portland woman told the mayor and commissioners about the burdens her family has dealt with from a homeless camp that’s been on her street on and off for the last several years.
“I have spent 63.2 hours of my time, this year alone, since January 1st when I started tracking my time, cleaning up after these people that includes feces, human feces, rat carcasses, needles,” the woman said.
“In one week, 119 times during the times I’m home, I’ve had to ask people to leave my yard smoking fentanyl, needles in my yard, I was told that my kids needed to learn how to use drugs sooner or later during all of this,” the woman said. “I have kids that are starting school this coming week, I can’t trust that they’re going to be safe just getting to and from the bus stop.”
“You’re not alone and I hear you and I understand your frustration,” Wheeler said in response.
The woman went on to say that she has empathy for the homeless but says law-abiding citizens continue to be hurt by this.
“There is no consequences to their actions there is no respect that they have for everybody else. I have worked in social services for 15 years, I understand compassion is needed,” she added.
City of Portland code regarding conduct prohibited on public property says “it is unlawful for any person to camp in or upon any public property or public right of way, unless otherwise specifically authorized by this Code or by declaration by the Mayor in emergency circumstances.”
KOIN 6 News asked city commissioners if they would support banning urban camping in the city.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Commissioner Mingus Mapps said “I will consider anything that reduces tent camping. That includes addressing the saturation of meth and fentanyl in our community. We need more sobering centers, treatment options, shelter beds, and mental health resources for people living outdoors in Portland.”
Commissioner Carmen Rubio’s office also released a statement from the commissioner.
“Children deserve to be able to walk safely to their schools, and I support the Street Services Coordination Center’s work to ensure that they can. If there remains questions about a permanent ban for safe school routes, I would want to look closely at the work that unfolded under this declaration to see where and how resources are used most efficiently,” the statement said. “Regardless, the underlying issue continues to be a lack of housing generally and a lack of permanent supportive housing specifically to help people gain stability. Those two things are the solution – and my hope is that we can move faster. Until then, we will continue to move people from one location to another.”
KOIN 6 News also reached out to commissioners Hardesty and Ryan but did not hear back. This story will be updated with their comments.