Portland mayor speaks on decision to postpone Springwater Corrid - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland mayor speaks on decision to postpone Springwater Corridor sweep

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Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. (KPTV) Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Homeless campers along the Springwater Corridor will have an extra 30 days before a major sweep, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales announced Wednesday. 

Hales said the decision to push the homeless sweep to Sept. 1 is the result of several local advocates, outreach workers, even police officers, urging the mayor to give people who live out there more time to get help, pack up and find a new place to go.

"The neighborhoods along the corridor that have been very frustrated with the situation are no doubt still frustrated but I hope most of them are going to understand that if the city is humane and careful in doing difficult work, that that’s better than doing it too quickly or worse, inhumanely," Hales said. 

He said he is well aware of what is going on along the Springwater Corridor.

"I understand this is an unacceptable situation," said Hales. "It’s still unacceptable and it will remain unacceptable until we're fully enforcing the camping ordinance."

That ordinance will now be pushed to Sept. 1 instead of Aug. 1, giving homeless campers an extra month to move out, and caseworkers and advocates more opportunity to hit the trail and offer help to the homeless.

People who camp on the trail say they need that additional time.

"I agree on the extension of being able to stay here so we can get more organizations for housing," said one camper.

But homeowners like Mike Nielsen, who live just feet away from the trail, are not pleased with the delay. 

"It's a big sinking feeling of here we go again," he said. 

When asked if he was worried about his safety, Nielsen said, "Yes, we've been threatened many times." 

He said he is ready for the crime outside his front door to leave.

"Constant 24/7 drug trafficking, prostitution and violent behavior," he said. 

While Nielsen counts down the days to the September sweep, he hopes it will be a good long-term solution. 

"Six months from that, unless they enforce, I'm sure new transients will move in," he said. 

Hales said, "Is it going to pay off in a week? No. Is it going to be visible in a month or two? A little bit. Six months to a year from now, I think people are going to see a real change."

The mayor said there will be increased law enforcement as well as cleanup crews around the trail over the next month.  He also said the city is currently working on additional shelters and housing, saying they are committed to opening 650 shelter beds within the next year.

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