HILLSBORO, OR (KPTV) - Portland's homeless population appears to be spreading to the suburbs, and it has smaller cities in the metro area scrambling to keep up.

In Hillsboro, officers Jason Becker and Mike Abshier walk regularly through Dairy Creek Park to check on the people that now camp there, many of whom tell them they've relocated from Portland because of threats of theft and violence.

"Folks are just tired of being victimized," Becker said. "And so they'll jump on the nearest available MAX and they'll ride out here, which is where it ends."

Becker and Abshier exercise a strategy that uses enforcement as the last option, preferring to forge relationships with people.

In a recent effort to tidy up the park, the officers handed out gift cards to restaurants to anyone willing to clean up their mess.

"We've been able to identify the folks that are willing to kind of rise up above where they're at and assist us. It's helped us establish, for lack of a better phrase, some allies that are actually out here," Becker said.

According to public data, Washington County's homeless population grew to 530 people in 2019, up from 115 the year before.

Although the Hillsboro officers do their best not to punish campers with jail time, they have removed people with outstanding warrants, and periodically post camps for cleanup.

"There's an endpoint where it doesn't matter what you're doing, we're still going to move you out, because we have an obligation to make sure that this is a safe place and that this park is clean," Abshier said.

The City of Hillsboro partners with the Metro RID Program to clean up the park. Officers typically give campers 24-hours' notice and encourage campers to re-locate their belonging before the cleanup.

Once the area is clean, campers quickly return.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(5) comments

Terrell Higgs

'Folks are just tired of being victimized' The home, land and business owners are the ones being victimized, not the homeless.


Charlatan

Yeah, the homeless are NEVER victimized. Cause the fact that they are homeless means they aren't even really people and therefore can't be victimized by anyone ever, right?


Dwinch

That's one thing mass transit is good at, spreading crime and all that goes with it.



If this is leftist Utopia, they can keep it.


Lawlessness Brings Destruction

Just keep voting Democrat, folks. Not only will they advance policies that keep drugs flowing across the border, work to kill jobs with "cap and trade" mythology, raise taxes and the cost of doing business, and leave law abiding citizens defenseless, they'll give all kinds of benefits to illegal aliens and throw the homeless (especially veterans) under the bus.


Charlatan

Yeah cause the Republicans are soooooo much better when it comes to helping the homeless. You partisans are nothing but useful idiots.




Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.