PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Portland will begin to enforce a daytime camping ban, which had been passed earlier this year, in two weeks, officials announced on Monday.
The ban officially starts on Nov. 13.
The announcement came during a press conference with Mayor Ted Wheeler and interim Portland Police Bureau Chief Bob Day also announced an increase in foot patrols in the city’s downtown for the upcoming holiday shopping season.
The daytime camping ban ordinance was passed by the City Council on June 7 and would ban camping in public places from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A lawsuit was filed by the Oregon Law Center against the city in late September, claiming the ban was “unreasonable, cruel, incomprehensible.”
Advocates for people who are homeless say there are not enough beds for everyone who sleeps on the streets in the city.
“We’re doing our best to expand services to meet the dire need in our community, and this has included preparing for when the camping ban would be enforced. Actually, we’ve seen an impact on our services due to the camping ban for months now, even though it hasn’t been enforced,” said Scott Kerman with Blanchet House. “People are concerned that they’ll lose their things if they leave them on the street when they come for meals, so we’re having to provide room for more belongings than ever before. For now, we’ll continue to serve and await details from the City on what enforcement will look like.”
Multnomah County says there are nearly 3,000 shelter beds. Point-in-time counts, widely recognized as an undercount, discovered that over 6,000 people were homeless last winter.
Wheeler says officers will be enforcing this ban alongside the Street Services Coordination Center, which handles camp cleanups and connecting people to shelter.
Wheeler says that the second temporary alternative shelter site, the mass campsites that have resources on-site for jobs, addiction treatment and otherwise, is helping address the shelter capacity at the scale he says the city needs.
But with thousands of beds short of what the city needs, KOIN 6 asked about the timing of this coming just before the cold and rainy months.
“The police bureau will be using it selectively in a strategic manner to emphasize the areas that are the most problematic but at the end of the day, the goal for me is to make sure we have adequate shelter. That’s the whole point behind tass sites and Safe Rest Villages,” he said.
Wheeler calls on the city, county and state to invest in the alternative shelter sites because when the second one comes online, it will add 200 shelter beds to the area’s capacity.