Neighbors in SE Portland concerned by growing homeless camp on private property

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 9:03 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - One southeast Portland neighborhood is growing more and more concerned about a homeless encampment that neighbors say seems to be growing just as fast as their worry.

Melinda, who lives nearby, said that she has tried to get the mess cleaned up, but has run into issues with whose job it is to do so.

The encampment in question is located at SE 72nd Avenue and Luther Road, and Melinda says it seems like cleaning it up has been met with a standstill between the property owner, who’s based in Texas, and the City of Portland.

Regardless, she’d like to see something done about it.

“There are people who do care if these people get resources or to at least clean the mess up,” she said.

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She said there’s more to the problem than just trash, as she claims she’s had to go as far as putting out a grassfire beside the large homeless camp, which she believes, was started by one of the people inside. Looking back in time to years prior, she said she would have never found herself doing something like that in her neighborhood before, because it was a time when she said it was safe.

“Now, there’s things lurking in the bushes that you don’t know are there,” Melinda said.

Roughly a year ago, she said there was just one camp at the location. She said it belonged to someone who was friendly and didn’t leave trash behind. However, within the last couple of weeks, she explained that “it just started building up.”

Melinda said she believes those experiencing homelessness may have caught wind that the property owner is based in Texas.

“I think they know that nobody can do anything, so they just keep getting more people to come down here,” she said.

She said that raises concerns about the location of the encampment and nearby resources, because there’s Johnson Creek nearby.

“If there’s that many camps, what’s getting dumped into the creek?” Melinda asked.

She went on to say the roads have seen more unwelcome foot traffic as well.

“I feel like it’s not safe for people to be walking down the street at night to catch the bus,” she said.

Her parents have been living nearby for more than 40 years, and she said recently things have been stolen, “and this is the first time anything has been taken from our property.”

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She said that she had called the property owner, and when they answered, she said they claimed to be unaware. After hanging up, she recalled when she got a callback and was told there was a dispute coming from the city about whose jurisdiction it was to deal with it.

“There’s not much we can do as citizens who are being bothered in the neighborhood,” she said. “Hopefully, nobody thinks that we don’t see this and that it’s just being ignored. It needs to be addressed, instead of hidden in the back corner and forgot about.”

The City of Portland responded to an inquiry from FOX 12 stating that if Melinda would like something done, her only option would be to file a code violation complaint against the property owner.