Piedmont neighborhood concerned about squatters under Vancouver - KPTV - FOX 12

Piedmont neighborhood concerned about squatters under Vancouver Avenue bridge

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Residents in the Piedmont neighborhood want a resolution to the ongoing homeless problem that is growing under the Vancouver Avenue bridge.

According to Jan de Leeuw, chairman of the Piedmont Neighborhood Association, more and more people have made this sheltered spot their home.

He walked FOX 12 through some of his concerns - dirty needles, clothes and trash.

"It's not a clean needle exchange here," said de Leeuw. "From the other side, as you can see, there's no fence really."  

He said things were not always this bad. He pointed down to a charred heap of personal belongings.

"This must, may be stuff from Kenny who lived here," de Leeuw said.

He said Kenny lived under the bridge. For three years, the community welcomed him with open arms because he kept the "bad eggs" out.

Another neighbor, Dan Register, knew him well.

"He helped keep the people out of that area and we supplied them with dog food for his dog and food and water to keep him alive and that was going pretty good through the winter until somebody torched all of his stuff and blazed everything and he's been gone ever since," Register said.

Much like the bridge, De Leeuw and Register are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They understand people need shelter, but they don't want their concerns to creep into Farragut City Park.

"I'm asking for a determination," de Leeuw said. "If this area is going to be used or not for people to live here if they can, and for that we need to determine who owns it, and we need to determine if it's safe for people to live here. If it's not, it should be closed off."

Register said in Kenny's case, the Piedmont neighborhood found a way to benefit everyone. He hopes the city will do the same.

"The reality is, they have nowhere to go, and the ones that wanna do better are losing those opportunities," said Register.

De Leeuw wrote a letter to a number of organizations including the Portland Bureau of Transportation. While they acknowledged his letter, he plans on discussing these issues further at Friday's neighborhood meeting.

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