Homeless camps in Portland remain in place despite the ban on camping
A new ban on day camping for the homeless went into effect in Portland on Friday, but you wouldn’t notice it walking around the town of Roses.
Tents dotted along sidewalks and those who have built their homes on public land say the new directive is unlikely to bring significant changes.
“These are cops…” Michael, who has been homeless on and off since the ’90s, bluntly told Fox News. “I’m tired of moving. You have to make me move.”
The city council passed the ordinance by a 3-1 vote last month, changing the city ordinance to only allow people to camp overnight in open areas provided they clear their camps each morning.
From 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., people are prohibited from blocking access to shops or sidewalks with tents in Portland.
Camping is also prohibited in city parks or within 250 feet of a school, daycare, or city-operated homeless shelter.
The new rules went into effect on July 7, but neither the city nor the police have started enforcing them.
Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office said the city is planning a “summer of education” and will make a formal announcement once enforcement begins.
“Over the next few months we will be focusing on education and outreach – to ensure that all outreach teams, city staff, [police] Employees and others have clear and comprehensive information on this new regulation,” Wheeler said in a statement.
A man recently jailed for stabbing another man said he hoped homeless people would refuse to let authorities enforce the ban.
“What I think would be cool is if we stand up together and make sure they don’t force us to take down our tents or whatever,” said the man, who asked not to be identified. “If they want violence, give them violence back.”
Lori, who recently got off the streets into a shelter, told Fox News she believes the ban will make Portland “100 times worse” as the homeless – particularly those taking mind-altering drugs like fentanyl – will be coerced during it roaming the city for a day rather than staying secluded in their tents. Victoria agreed.
“[Some homeless people] I can’t fathom what’s really going on out here,” said the Texas native. “They won’t get up and move if they don’t know how to get up and move.”
People who violate the regulation will initially receive two written warnings. A third violation could face a fine of up to $100 or up to 30 days in jail, although Wheeler’s office said prosecutors will focus on “finding alternative punishments.”
Enforcement of the ordinance aims to “connect people with appropriate resources while addressing behaviors that harm our community,” according to the mayor’s office.
“While I support clearing our sidewalks, I hope this ban will have a wider reach to actually help these people,” said Kevin Dahlgren, a Portland-area drug and alcohol counselor who has been an outspoken critic of the drug and alcohol crisis Dealing with drugs on the West Coast is with homelessness.
Dahlgren fears the ban will simply result in homeless people being swept from one street to the next and back again, a concern shared by Matt Bordonaro.
“Until we create the camps and safe spaces and really try to crack down, they won’t take it seriously. Nobody takes it seriously,” said Bordonaro, Oregon Harbor of Hope development director. The nonprofit is the brainchild of legendary Portland developer Homer Williams, who has frequently feuded with the city over how best to address the homeless crisis.
To hear more from those on the streets of Portland, click here.