Homeless campers living along Springwater Trail say leaving is n - KPTV - FOX 12

Homeless campers living along Springwater Trail say leaving is not easy

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The remaining homeless campers who were living along Springwater Trail had to relocate Thursday as police and park rangers swept the area. (KPTV) The remaining homeless campers who were living along Springwater Trail had to relocate Thursday as police and park rangers swept the area. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

It was a day they knew was coming, but for the people living along the Springwater Trail, leaving wasn’t easy.

“We have settled in, we have quite a bit, cook stove, shelving, a sink set up, a shower set up,” Richelle Irving, who was living along the trail, said. “We thought we were going to be okay for a while and we’re not.”

The mayor of Portland announced weeks ago that homeless encampments along the trail would be swept starting September 1. It’s a project that’s no easy undertaking.

Hundreds of people once lived along the trail, many of them for years. Park rangers and city crews spent hours moving those who remained out of the area.

“It seems like every time we think we have a shot or something’s going to be okay, it’s kicked out from under us,” Irving said. “There’s pretty much a low amount of hope.”

There were some tense moments Thursday morning as two separate campers with weapons refused to leave. The city said at least one of them was having a mental health crisis.

“He was armed with a knife, a machete actually, and some razors. I know the gentleman and I had to talk to him for about 45 minutes, and it basically was fear,” homeless advocate Dirk Asbury explained. “With a familiar face in the situation he was able to finally calm down and we could get him out of there.”

Asbury has been working with people along the trail for two years, building trust along the way. He said it’s those relationships people are leaning on as their lives are being disrupted.

“I just said, ‘Can I take that off your hands? I don’t want to see you get hurt and I don’t want anyone to do any action against you,’” he said about the incident. “And he just said ‘Here you go.’”

For the most part, Thursday’s effort was peaceful, as between 70 and 100 people were moved off the trail near Lambert Field.

City leaders said they’re proud of the work being done by so many agencies and volunteers, and as the camping enforcement continues they’re asking everyone to have some patience and compassion.

Social service and outreach agencies will be back on the trail in this same area Friday and in the coming days.

There is no timeline yet for how long all of this could take, but city leaders expect it to cost somewhere between $150,000 and $400,000.

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