Another delay in Montavilla homeless sweeps issue

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There's another delay for the Montavilla neighborhood working towards making a decision about homeless sweeps.

Jonnie Shaver, the former Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) board chair, has stepped down. Shaver is the person who proposed a resolution last month to stop homeless sweeps.

The change in leadership comes after Saturday's town hall to discuss the same issue was canceled.

FOX 12 spoke to community members at Montavilla's street fair Sunday, where they say homelessness remains a controversial topic.

Members of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association say something different needs to be done about the homeless crisis.

“I don’t think that sweeping it under the rug, so to speak, will actually eliminate the conditions that create the problem,” said Jonathan Ogden, the MNA interim board chair.

He and other members say it’s about showing compassion for the homeless.

“They’re all our neighbors and they need to be treated as human beings,” said Michael Sonnleitner, a MNA board member.

Stephen Rice, the president of the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association, says homelessness draws debris and can ward off customers.

“There are sometimes safety concerns. Risks that their customers might feel unsafe coming to some of the businesses. And some of the general litter and other cleanup that happens," he said.

Rice also says it puts extra pressure on business owners. He says he doesn’t believe the crisis in Montavilla is any worse than in other Portland neighborhoods.

Saturday's town hall was canceled by the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement because it wasn’t planned as a public event.

Now, things are up in the air because Shaver, the former board chair for MNA, is gone.

Ogden says there will be another town hall regarding the sweeps, although he hasn't said when at this point.

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