People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Continued Plight of the Houseless: RV Crackdown, R2DToo Moves
Although some things have changed for those who are houseless, conditions remain difficult for many in the Portland area. On February 22, an official count found there were more homeless than previously, but that there were more people being sheltered than before. There were also considerable increases in those who had been homeless for close to two years as well as those with disabling conditions (Willamette Week, June 21). Various neighborhoods have become increasingly involved with the issue. The Montavilla Neighborhood Association passed a resolution asking Mayor Wheeler to stop homeless camp sweeps-- which they felt were unproductive and a waste of tax dollars better spent on shelter beds, transitional housing and treatment. Wheeler responded by indicating he would not stop the sidewalk or park sweeps and that he had an obligation to respond to complaints from various neighborhoods. Not all Montavilla residents agreed with this informal resolution, claiming correct procedures had not been followed. A meeting was postponed from July 29 to further discuss the issue (Oregonian, July 12; Portland Tribune, July 20). The City suspended all camp sweeps during the heat wave in early August. Meanwhile, Overlook Neighborhood may lose its certification for proposing to ban houseless residents from voting. The Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association asked Council to enact a partial camping ban in that area. There have been RVs parked on some of the nearby streets as well as people camping in the park.
People have been living in RVs and a number have been towed by the City, in many cases with all
the belongings of those who already have so little. The Willamette Week (July 19) reported
on a woman whose RV was towed while it contained pictures of her mother and grandmother. She
has been asked to pay a $990 fine for her belongings to be released, but that is not possible since
she and her husband have a total income of $1100. Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the
Transportation Bureau, said, "one of our jobs is to make sure our city is a liveable place."
Clearly, he means this for a certain class.
Developer Homer Williams, who keeps weighing in on the issue (PPRs #62 and 71) is promoting an initiative to open up the Broadmoor Golf Course for affordable housing (Oregonian, July 1).
After many fits and starts, Right 2 Dream, Too, the houseless rest area, finally left Burnside downtown and is now located near the Moda Center just over the Steel Bridge. Fortunately, the move occurred without the usual hew and cry from businesses and neighbors. Some tiny houses, similar to those for women in Kenton Village, have been sited there.
In an Oregonian op-ed (July 19), former park ranger (and Community/Police Relations Committee chair) Sam Sachs wrote "fining and jailing homeless people for camping in any city park is dehumanizing and criminalizes people who desperately need solutions rooted in compassion and understanding." He suggests the city designate undeveloped property as villages with tiny homes, restrooms, showers and resource centers. Meanwhile, both Portland and Multnomah County have included millions in their budgets for homeless services and housing.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.