That was quick!
One day after an unsanctioned camp for homeless women sprang up on a plot of Portland Development Commission land near Lents Town Center, organizers have agreed to take it down, according to Mayor Charlie Hales' office.
"The organizers have now agreed to work with the Mayor’s Office to place the women who are currently at the site into shelters within the next 24 hours," Hales spokesperson Sara Hottman says in an email. "The campsite will then be shut down."
But it's not the last Portland's seen of the encampment—tentatively calling itself "Hope Forward."
"Organizers will work on developing a managed camp at another PDC site," Hottman writes. "The move is expected in the next two weeks."
Advocacy 5, the nonprofit that coordinated yesterday's takeover of a plot at SE Woodstock and 93rd, hasn't yet confirmed Hales' announcement. The group—a conglomeration of several organizations—has railed against what it says is slow progress by the City of Portland in protecting homeless women who frequently experience sexual assault. It's been working with Hales' office to establish an organized camp for women for months, but when officials recently pulled the Lents property off the table, advocates decided to act anyway.
"No one seemed to know the next step," Gresham homeless advocate Raine Ritalto said yesterday. "So we went on and took the next step."
The pressure would seem to have paid off. News emerged today that the PDC has a tentative deal to sell the 0.38-acre Lents plot for market-rate apartments and food carts, but Hales' office is committing to quickly move the group to another space.
Here's a statement Hottman forwarded from Hales:
“These organizations have done us a service in connecting us with these women, so we can move them to safety. However, our Safe Sleep Guidelines are clear: They cannot set up unsanctioned camps. It’s not courteous to the surrounding neighborhood, and it doesn’t allow us to connect these women with the services they deserve. We are moving far faster than government typically does, and we need these organizations to work with us for the benefit of our whole Portland community.”