Neighbors in southeast Portland near Mall 205 say they are fed up with homeless campers leaving behind trash and needles along a bike path.
Near Southeast 94th and Washington Street, items including clothing – and even flat-screen TVs – are scattered around shopping carts and on fences lining the multi-use bike path that runs along Interstate I-205.
It’s just one example of the much bigger problem facing Portland, and many other cities.
“Every year it’s getting worse and worse,” said Steve Stabler.
Stabler has lived in the neighborhood for the last 17 years and said he’s seen it change quite a bit in that time.
Walking along the path Tuesday afternoon, he found shards of broken glass and several exposed drug needles in a matter of only a few minutes.
Stabler said he’s reached out to police, Metro and other city departments but feels like nothing is being done.
“Everybody tries to pass the buck to everyone else, because they don’t want to deal with it,” he said.
Sgt. Chris Burley, a spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau, told FOX 12 that East Precinct officers do patrol the bike path along I-205, along with other problematic areas like the Springwater Trail, Lents Park, Flavel Park and Essex Park.
Burley said on average, officers make 157 contacts, 82 referrals for services and 14 arrests in those areas every month.
“The Police Bureau would like to spend more time working in these areas, but because of limited resources and a need to respond to 911 calls for service, we are often times pulled away to assist community members with immediately life-safety emergencies,” Burley added.
However, the buck doesn’t stop with Portland police alone.
There are several city departments involved in addressing the homeless crisis, from the mayor’s office and the Joint Office of Homeless Services, to the Parks & Recreation Department, and many others.
Additionally, other agencies like the Oregon Department of Transportation get involved when camps run along state-operated freeways.
At this particular camp Tuesday afternoon, there were several “no camping” signs posted by ODOT near the tents, letting campers know they have a few days to leave before crews come in to collect their property.
Stabler hopes it’s not just words, but a promise linked to action.
“My response would be to be proactive, not reactive,” he said of the response from local agencies. “The problem is that when they see a camp that starts to show up, they should take care of it before it actually gets where it’s at.”
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