PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — People in the Hazelwood Neighborhood say they’re fed up with homeless camps in the area and believe a BottleDrop center is attracting even more campers.
The complaints are coming from people who live on Northeast 120th Ave. It’s a quaint one-block street that most of the neighbors KOIN 6 News spoke to have lived on for decades.
“There are still two people who live here who built their home post World War II period,” said Monica Truax.
Truax and other neighbors say since the BottleDrop facility at NE 122nd & NE Glisan opened back in November, it’s drawn people living in RVs, camper-trailers, cars, and tents to their street.
“I just drive in and drive out and it’s sad because this community is actually starting to get a little more vibrant, we got a new taqueria and they’re building a new central library processing center, but I don’t want to walk anywhere around here,” said Nick Weston, who bought a home on the street four years ago.
Weston says he and his neighbors are constantly having to pick up trash, needles and sometimes even human feces.
“I call 311 pretty much daily and don’t get any feedback from them other than we’re working on it and I know there are 800 campsites out there, so we’re not the only problem in Portland, but sometimes I feel like everyone east of 82nd just gets forgotten about,” said Weston.
He told KOIN 6 News one of the former neighbors who had a child became so worried about the problems they recently moved.
“I’m glad I don’t have any kids, because if I had kids I would not want to live in this neighborhood, it’s not safe,” said Weston.
Weston also said that not long ago someone drilled a hole into his wife’s truck and stole gasoline.
KOIN 6 News talked to a woman living in one of the vehicles parked along 120th.
“People want to judge people for being homeless, they should try and be in their shoes for a week,” the woman said.
When KOIN 6 asked what she thought about people in the neighborhood saying they don’t pass judgment, but that they are tired of the drugs and human waste on the street, she said that something should be done to fix homelessness.
“Then fix it because there are enough empty houses out there that every homeless person can have a place to live,” said the woman.
She told KOIN 6 News the BottleDrop facility isn’t the reason she parked her SUV on 120th. However, she said it is convenient when she & her boyfriend collect cans.
She admitted they’ve also sold meth to make money to pay for hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol. They use the products to light a small fire inside their vehicle to keep warm or boil water.
Weston and his fellow neighbors say it’s not just the camp that’s the issue. They say bright lights in the BottleDrop parking lot shine directly into bedroom windows. Some neighbors also say they are woken up every day at 4 a.m. by the loud noise of trucks removing containers at the site.
KOIN 6 News reached out to BottleDrop for an interview, they weren’t able to accommodate the request but did answer some questions.
A BottleDrop spokesperson said they will reschedule operations trucks to pick up recycled materials later in the morning to mitigate the noise problem.
In regards to the complaints about the parking lot lights the spokesperson said, “We work closely with our neighbors at all 26 of our full-service redemption centers, and will work with the neighbors at this facility as best we can to resolve any lighting issues.”
The organization also told KOIN 6 News they are aware of the challenging societal issues in Oregon but say container redemption provides an important source of funds for many people and assert that the program did not contribute to the creation of the underlying social issues.
KOIN 6 News also asked the mayor’s office if they can tell us when this is going to be removed and if there are any solutions for people on this street, the Community Safety Division responded by saying that the site is on the city’s radar for cleanup and removal in the next few weeks.