PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Residents of a Southeast Portland neighborhood have grown increasingly frustrated after a series of camp sweeps in their area were left incomplete.
In May, Lents resident Terry Eggebrecht said she wanted to host a Saturday market on their street, but city permits were pricey. However, the city couldn’t guarantee the sidewalk or street would be free of a homeless encampment that had taken over the area.
Since then, the city has issued sweeps in the area, but residents say they were only partially done because PBOT wasn’t there to help move the vehicles.
Residents who live at the intersection of Southeast 83rd Avenue and Duke Street look outside their front doors every day and still see a homeless encampment.
“Everyone involved is caring and they are doing the best that they can,” resident Josh Ross said. “The system is broken.”
Ross told KOIN 6 he feels trapped because he doesn’t feel safe leaving his home unoccupied.
“We get yelled at in the front of the house, and we don’t want to be out here,” he said. “It feels really helpless and feels really alone. It feels scary.”
Ross follows the systems in place to report encampments. He has dedicated the past six months to learn the processes and procedures and try and find the right person to connect the homeless to the necessary services.
“Ultimately, through all the digging, I found that there’s not really anyone like that,” Ross said. “No one exists.”
KOIN 6 asked city officials why they didn’t coordinate to move both tents and vehicles during their initial sweep. Neighbors say people loaded up cars only to unload onto the sidewalk as soon as city cleaners left.
“Every time PBOT parking enforcement staff have a conversation with someone who is living in a vehicle, it’s a chance to get them one step closer to services and shelter that they need,” said Dylan Rivera, a spokesperson for the transportation bureau. “We provide information and a free ride to social service agencies that could help address their needs.”
Rivera went on to say that the Impact Reduction Team takes care of tents, saying they can only deal with vehicles. And if any drugs are involved, it’s a police matter.
“It feels like spinning your wheels,” Ross said, adding that he thinks the city bureaus are working in silos.
“There is no one responsible for everything, and there is no clear set of expectations for residents or for people on the street,” he said.
KOIN 6 spoke with a woman named Emily, who lives in a tent on the sidewalk. She said she gets why neighbors are fed up.
“I understand both sides of it,” she said. “Our spot is pretty blown up and overrun right now.”
But she says it’s a two-way street.
“We as houseless people get harassed a lot – the same way that the people in the houses feel like they get harassed by us,” she said.
Residents say there ultimately needs to be one point of contact at the city to provide people with solutions, both for homeowners and the homeless.
“Livability is a major concern of mine and we are consistently working to make things better,” Commissioner Mingus Mapps said. “My office recently worked with the mayor’s office and the community safety division to increase funding to address more derelict RV’s. Additionally, with the opening of the Sunderland RV safe park site, PBOT is able to help get even more RV’s off of the streets.”