PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Evidence of Portland’s mental health and homeless crisis can be seen throughout the city, but one local woman says more needs to be done after witnessing a homeless person come inside her home and fall asleep in her child’s bed.
Kelsey Smith described the encounter as “horrifying” after finding a stranger curled up in her 10-year-old’s bed on Tuesday.
Smith says she was on her back deck when her dogs started to go crazy. She told KOIN 6 News that she ignored them for a minute because no one rang the bell, but that’s because the intruder walked right into the house.
Smith said she initially decided to investigate because she thought maybe dogs saw a mouse.
“When I got close enough, I saw it was a body and I thought it was my husband,” she said.
Smith even calls his name, before realizing the person in the bed is not her husband, but a barefoot intruder. Smith says the homeless woman then picked up an ottoman and chucked it at her before running away.
While she tells KOIN 6 that the home invader was later picked up by police, Smith says her home was only the second of three to be hit by the suspect that day.
“She started by going up to my neighbor two doors down and urinating on their porch, and then she came directly over to my house, came in, crawled up into the bed and that whole thing happened. They actually found her five minutes later around the corner trying to break into somebody else’s house. So, what happens the next time that she breaks into somebody’s house, and they have a gun?” Smith said.
As a lifelong Portland resident, Smith says she feels more needs to be done to help address the city’s mental health and homeless crisis.
KOIN 6 reached out to the Joint Office of Homeless Services for a response, and while they weren’t available to speak Tuesday, Multnomah County said two weeks ago that “the vast majority of folks are not dangerous, who are outside. They are just as likely to be victims of crimes too. That’s why we want to get them the housing resources and the sheltering resources.”
During that interview, the county also said to fully address the homeless crisis, the City of Portland will need to focus on the lack of job opportunities and affordable housing.
But until that happens, Smith says residents should rely on their neighbors first.
“Find your village. Talk to your neighbors. Make sure you trade contact information and look out for each other because they’re going to be your first line of defense before the police before anybody else,” she said.