PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There is now a new way to track the homeless crisis in the city of Portland.
The Impact Reduction Program is launching a new map this week showing where encampments are reported and encampments are removed. There are thousands of reports in just the last month, and hundreds of encampment cleanups as well.
The program used to just list the number of reports and the number of clean-ups conducted each week. Now, a map shows every step, from the initial report to the assessment, plus when a camp is cited for cleanup and when, as well as why, a camp is removed.
“You can see the areas, Powell, 92nd and Powell, 82nd and Powell, a lot of Division (St.),” said Char Pennie from the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association.
“I’m looking to see how it evolves in the next few years or next six months when we have the data to see the patterns that exist,” added Abigail Smock from the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association. “A lot of postings, and then removals, then posting and removals so you can see that kind of cycle.”
The data goes back to July 2022, showing when and where a campsite has been reported, the assessment from the city’s impact reduction team, if an encampment has been cited for removal and if it’s been cleaned up.
Only camps deemed high risk are removed, scored for the size, blocking public or ADA access, the presence of drug paraphernalia or crime, and impacting the environment and livability.
“We don’t have the capability of helping people who are so badly in need and we have so many of them,” said T.J. Browning from the Laurherlurst Neighborhood Association.
The IRP is required to post a removal notice three to 10 days before a cleanup is conducted, and a spokesperson tells KOIN 6 News that outreach workers try to connect people with services during that window.
If a camp returns within 10 days, the spokesperson says it will be cleaned up. If it’s longer than that, they will cite it again.
“Our teams make multiple outreach attempts ahead of time and those who we make contact with are offered an immediately available shelter bed, transportation to the shelter with belongings and storage for additional belongings. Those camping along high-crash corridors and safe walking routes to schools are informed that those areas have ‘no right of return,'” said the spokesperson.
But the cycle itself is a sign to Smock that more solutions are needed.”Now we have public records of encampments being logged and being cleared. That’s really great. Let’s see progress, and what that progress would look like is not a return to encampments but for those individuals can find affordable housing,” she said.