PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Last month, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler banned homeless camps along school walking routes, but as the school year gets underway, some parents are still waiting for their students to have a safe route to school.

A viewer told KOIN 6 News there’s a homeless camp near a learning center in NW Portland where people engage in drug use and violent behavior, and some of the people living on this street are refusing to move.

The City of Portland cleaned up camps at Couch Park twice last month, but on Tuesday, dozens of tents still remained.

Caleb Mills said he brings his child to the playground in the area. He also told KOIN 6 News it’s one of the safer places in the area for people without a home to sleep.

A parent and a child at a Portland playground, September 6, 2022 (KOIN)
A parent and a child at a Portland playground, September 6, 2022 (KOIN)

“When it comes down to these people camping, I consider them my neighbors and on the issue of them so close to a school, (it’s) really a matter of if you consider it an eyesore or if you have compassion towards other people,” he said.

Joesiff Reandeau, a homeless person living near Couch Park, told KOIN 6 News their partner was assaulted at one overnight shelter. They also said that other people have been on wait lists for months.

“Obviously most people don’t want their kids to have to see people living in tents, but the main issue is that if we want the tents to be somewhere else, you have to give them some other place to be,” they said. “I could move my tent today if I wanted to but a lot of people around here don’t have anywhere to go.”

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, the Street Services Coordination Center said, in part, they are “doing the best we can to assist our unhoused community members and remove high-risk camps with the limited resources we have available.”

SSC also said they have received 89 complaints about camps near Couch Park and the Metropolitan Learning Center. The center received more than 3,000 reports last week.

“If you don’t want people to tent around the parks or around schools, give them a designated place to tent,” Reandeau said.