PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A couple weeks have passed since the City of Portland’s camping ordinance officially went into effect. But while some of the city’s homeless are leaving sidewalks and parks, others are heading into more dangerous areas.
Some have migrated into areas along Highway 26 and I-405, where they are just feet from cars passing by.
The Oregon Department of Transportation says that despite putting up signs and fencing to prevent access, people are still getting through and setting up camp in areas under ODOT’s jurisdiction.
“The more we see people on the edge of the freeways, on the edge of the highways, the more jeopardy that they’re putting themselves in,” said ODOT’s Don Hamilton.
Along many of these areas bordering the freeway, KOIN 6 crew members found fences that were cut open or missing panels completely, and tents set up along uneven terrain.
However, one woman camping under an overpass on the north end of I-405 said that since the announcement of the camping ordinance – which banned camping during the day – many feel they don’t have anywhere else to go.
“There’s a lot of people that broke down basically,” Alannah said. “They broke down because they didn’t know where to go, they didn’t know what to do.”
Though the City of Portland is preparing to open its first temporary shelter site, they’ve acknowledged there are currently not enough shelter beds for everyone who is homeless.
Alannah said everyone’s reason for being on the streets is different.
“I’m out here because I’m on a limited income, and I fall through all the cracks,” she said. “I have no dependents and I don’t make enough to get into an apartment on my own.”
But she wishes those in charge would designate areas where those who are homeless can safely go, especially until there are enough shelter beds or resources available.
“Instead of telling me where I can’t, why don’t you tell me where I can,” she said.
KOIN 6 reached out to the City of Portland about some of these concerns.
They said the camping ordinance is not yet being enforced, and there was an emergency declaration signed last year to prohibit camping along high-speed corridors like ODOT properties.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.