Portland neighbors describe nightmare of living in fear of homeless people (Update)

This won’t come as a shock to regular readers but Fox 12 Oregon has done a couple of stories this week about Portland residents trying to deal with homeless people camping near their homes. Inevitably, these situations cross boundaries including leaving trash and needles around the area, entering people’s yards, stealing and even threats and fights. One such fight happened recently in a south Portland neighborhood and now people are afraid to go outside.


Recently neighbors said they witnessed a man being attacked by a person on their street. This is something they say would have never happened a few years ago.

Gwen Ingram, who lives near a homeless encampment, said she’d never before felt how she does now. She says she’s afraid to go outside in daylight…

“It’s terrifying,” Ingram said, “people scream at you, yell at you, and threaten you.”

Ingram claims police haven’t been helpful.

“We’d call and they’d ask, ‘do you want us to come?’ We’re like, ‘yes we want you to come out!’ That’s a stupid question.”

Another neighbor, Deena Closson, says she woke up one once and found someone was standing over her bed. She says she threw a hammer at him and he ran out the front door. But they all realize there’s not help coming to fix this problem. The police are badly understaffed and can’t do much even when they do show up. Here’s the full report.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has a plan for dealing with this problem which he’s been pursuing for several months now. He wants to open a number of large, sanctioned tent camps which would concentrate the homeless in specific areas and reduce the tent camps that pop up in neighborhoods like the one described above. But so far that effort hasn’t been going especially well. The Oregonian reported this today.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s quest to secure financial backing from state, county and regional leaders for his planned mass tent encampments continues to sputter, despite his months of intense lobbying.

The latest setback comes as Oregon lawmakers finalized a $200 million homelessness and housing spending package championed by Gov. Tina Kotek Tuesday night. The Metro regional government is also distributing unprecedented levels of funding to the three core Portland-area counties to help improve conditions for people experiencing homelessness.

The six proposed tent sites that Wheeler has pushed the city to create are intended to provide a safe and sanitary place to sleep for up to 250 people each plus access to meals and housing navigation assistance. But they won’t qualify for a single penny under the governor’s sweeping plan, Wheeler wrote to Kotek last week.


Previously, the city used to hand out tents to the homeless, making it easier to create these tent cities. The city has stopped doing that but a private group called People’s Housing Project (PHP) has stepped in to hand out tents instead. One homeowner found this out recently when a big tent popped up next to her back fence. When she told him she didn’t want him there, he threatened to burn down her house.

Vivica Elliott said she noticed a large new tent set up right behind her home on North Going Ct. early Monday morning. Having had problems with other camps nearby in the past, she found this one too close for comfort, so she went to tell the person she didn’t want them there. They responded with a threat.

“He said ‘I’m gonna burn your house down.’ He said it four times,” said Elliott.

Elliott called 9-1-1 and eventually, a police officer showed up but didn’t make an arrest. A spokesperson for the bureau said the investigating officer didn’t find that a crime had been committed.

Yet. A crime hasn’t been committed yet but everyone knows it will be soon because people living in tents have no other means to support themselves besides stealing. Elliott says she’s already had someone climb over the wall into her backyard. Here’s the full report.

Andy Ngo says PHP, the group distributing the tents, is composed of self-described communists. In any case, Portland is still a long way from having this problem under control.


Update: From downtown Portland yesterday.

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