Mapps: Portland has ‘hit bottom, we are beginning to dig out’

Civic Affairs

City Commissioner Mingus Mapps says Portland is investing in cleanup efforts and getting the homeless off the streets

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — City Commissioner Mingus Mapps believes Portland is on the up and up.

Mapps spoke with concerned residents on Wednesday night about what’s being done to clean up the city as people return to visit or work downtown. He said a lot of money in the city’s budget is devoted to clean up and people can expect to see areas cleared of tents as no-camping rules are enforced.

“We have certainly hit bottom and we are beginning to dig out,” he said.

Mapps said the push for recovery also includes erasing the graffiti scrawled across buildings city-wide.

“This council has dramatically increased the amount of dollars for graffiti removal. I think our current budget is about $1.3 million for the next fiscal year,” he said.

The money will expand the number of people working in the cleanup program and accelerate their response. Mapps said city leaders hope to respond to tagged buildings within three days by late fall.

Residents also asked about the city’s plans to build sanctioned camps and whether those efforts will lead to a decrease in the number of homeless people on the streets.

“The exact size is not clear to me but six camps will not be enough to provide a tent for every houseless person in Portland,” said Mapps.

Still, Mapps believes the camps and the reopening of shelters at full capacity will make a difference. He said the City Council recently passed a new set of rules clarifying where people can and cannot camp and the city is begging to enforce them.

“We basically said ‘you can’t camp within 10 feet of a business, 10 feet of a school’ — I think the parameters around schools may be a bit larger than that but we began to actually set some parameters and we are starting to actually enforce them,” he said. “It’s ramping up, not fast enough I know, but this is a pivot point.”

Mapps said Austin, Texas — which experienced similar problems as Portland did during the pandemic — is opening up shelters and sanctioned camps for the homeless, as well. But while officials in Austin are expected to start arresting people who don’t comply with no-camping rules later this summer, Mapps said that likely won’t happen in Portland.

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