Springwater Corridor cleanup party wants homeless to stay - KPTV - FOX 12

Springwater Corridor cleanup party wants homeless to stay

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

About 100 people rolled up their sleeves Saturday for a Springwater Corridor cleanup party that also came with a message to the city of Portland: Don’t shutdown camps without a new space for homeless residents. 

“I would like to see people stay here and for services to be provided,” said social advocate and neighbor Kelsey Schomberger as she picked up garbage outside a camp. “It’s pretty unfair for people at the top to say, 'enough is enough' and to kick people out without a place to go — without actually talking to the people who live here.”

Mayor Charlie Hales announced earlier this month that the camps would be cleaned out. He said violence, fires and environmental hazards had reached a tipping point where it was no longer safe for the public or the homeless to allow the camps to remain. City work crews will begin cleaning up any leftover camps August 1. 

Organizers said about 40 of the people cleaning up were homeless people who live along the trail.

Joel Tucker said he’s been in his current camp for about 9 months.

This is the only place I’ve got to live,” Tucker said. "I wish I could live in a house, but I can’t afford to because I have no money. I have no job. Nobody will give me a job because I’m homeless.”

"It’s hard out here,” Tucker added. "It’s a job being homeless.” 

Neighbors and businesses nearby have been calling for the shutdown for months — saying they're frustrated by the crime and trash, and feel too unsafe to use the trail. 

Schomberger wishes more of those who complain would go outside and meet their outdoor neighbors. 

“I know there’s folks that live in their neighborhood there and there’s also a neighborhood here -- which is an encampment -- but there’s kind of a divide, and I think a lot of folks that live in the Lents neighborhood and the neighborhood along the Springwater Corridor don’t actually know these people — don’t actually know them as individuals for who they are,” Schomberger said. "I think that divide is misunderstanding and judgment, and it’s easy folks who have a lot of resources and a house over their head to be critical of those who don’t have those things.”

Tucker’s camp is tidy and includes a garden featuring flowers, tomatoes, peas and other vegetables. Many of the produce isn’t ripe and the upcoming cleanup will mean he won’t be able to enjoy his work. 

He said he and his wife are stressed out by the thought of moving again.

“(We will) probably get a motel room for a couple weeks, and then will be back out on the streets,” Tucker said. 

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