SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Days after a new camping ordinance took effect in Salem, dozens of homeless campers voluntarily packed up their things and moved on Wednesday.
The new city ordinance forces around 40 people to move from their tents in downtown Salem and bans people from camping and leaving personal property on public right of way.
The Salem City Council considered implementing city-sanctioned homeless campsites to give those affected somewhere to go. But this week, officials said they will instead give more money to established warming shelters organized by Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency.
Campers were asked for voluntary cooperation to move from in front of the ARCHES day center on Wednesday, though the city threatened to cite anyone who refused.
Kathy Ursprung with the City of Salem told KOIN 6 News, “Again, our goal is voluntary compliance of this ordinance as we understand that citations or arrests aren’t a long-term solution.”
Authorities said the campers were complying. Many simply moved across the street to Marion Square Park.
JT Bond is one of the 40 campers affected by the new ban.
“I’m not trying to harm people, I’m not trying to commit crimes. I’m trying to take care of someone I love and I’m trying to get on my feet but I don’t have any options,” he told KOIN 6 News.
He said he understood the city’s decision, with piles of personal property, tents and even rats creating what the city calls a public health concern. But he said he had no other place to go.
“I get it,” Bond said. “I tried to tell people it doesn’t look good.”
The Public Works Department cleaned up the vacated areas and no citations had been issued by about 4 p.m.
Social service workers were on hand for the move to provide things like new tarps and bedding for those in need. Campers could also be connected to available services in the area.
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