Some concerned over new regulations restricting social services at Portland parks

KPTV photo.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Some people are voicing concerns over new city regulations that allow for only one social service per week at any Portland park.

Portland Parks & Recreation says the new rules, which also require a city permit and insurance, are designed to help with planning and safety. They say the changes give everyone a chance to use the park, and help with coordinating cleanup and supervising park activities.

FOX 12 spoke with several people at Director Park in downtown Portland Wednesday night.

Volunteers with Free Hot Soup have been serving donated food and bringing warm clothes to people at the park Monday through Friday for years – but now, volunteers like Jennifer Skyler say their mission is in trouble.

“My stomach has been in knots since we first found out,” Skyler said. “There’s no reason to enforce this when winter is coming on, when we’re in freezing temperatures overnight.”

Skyler thinks the new rules could be an attempt to push the homeless out of Director Park, which is surrounded by shops and restaurants.

“If the city has a problem with me at this point, I don’t know. I guess they’re going to have to come arrest us,” Skyler said. “I think we’re all going to be here, they’re going to have to run us off.”

Shawn, one of roughly 100 people standing in Director Park waiting for food Wednesday night, said he appreciates the help.

“If I didn’t get this meal before the day ended, I would probably be malnourished and in bad health, so it’s a great thing,” Shawn said. “I think it’s ridiculous that the state would - anybody would want to limit someone to the right to survive, to live without food, we don’t survive, it’s that simple.”

The city says it’s confident the new regulations can help groups become even more successful. They say that though the new rules are just being rolled out now, they’re still in the education phase.

As for Free Hot Soup, volunteers say they’re not going anywhere.

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

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