Portland Might Have Found a Site for Its Next Homeless Camp

The Problem? It's Contaminated


I'm sorry -but Trena is covering her own ass on this one. To my knowledge, no one from city offices ever directed advocates to send folks to this site. The mayor's staff provided the dumpsters, porta potties and water only AFTER the advocates (at Trena's suggestion) had been sending folks to the site. Trena was even directing people being displaced from camp sites along the Springwater in Gresham to this area.

The only city person I know that may have consulted with Trena to choose this site is a police officer that she is buddy buddy with - and he did not do it at the direction of anyone at City Hall.
Ms. Potter is so very factually incorrect once again. The city did work with two "advocates" to place people there. I asked for a livability study which included an environmental study well over a year ago and never heard back from the mayor's office. I warned one of the aforementioned advocates of my concerns when I first was told that he was assisting the city in placing the campers. Until people started becoming ill I did not even realize what was happening. Ms. Potter needs to get her facts straight. I accused her of talking out of a Southern Orifice before and it appears that my impression of her is spot on correct.
Trena, I think the problem is you and your "advocates" have a problem comprehending that acknowledgement that a site is city owned by employees of the city is not the same thing as giving a green light or direction to move unsheltered folks onto the site without the appropriate community involvement and due diligence.

I'm sorry you're impatient and can not wait for these things to be done before you up and direct people to squat on city owned property. That's not negligence on the part of the city - that's your impatience putting people in these situations.
It's also important to recognize that no one was "placed" at this property. It's not a sanctioned camp. People are "placed" at sanctioned camp sites, in shelters and in housing. What is happening on this site is illegal squatting.
Isn't there room for the homeless in Hale's or Fritz's neighborhoods? Oh, that's right… they wouldn't stand for something like that.
I hope the contamination keeps them away...fingers crossed. We are not the dumping ground over hear...I heard Lake Oswego has some land availability ...😏
I fail to understand why such issues are fodder for publication when the 5,000 pound elephant in the room is that homeless camping is about to be ill-legalized (again) either by the pending law suit, or mayor elect Wheeler when upon taking office. The real story is what in the hell is going to happen post ill-legalization. Tick-toc, tick-toc.
See what tents do to people- and you all think I'm joking about this shit. And I like how you covered up my comments and replaced the story merc....I hope all you campers choke and die. Been living under the stars 2+ years with no tent while you campers trash my hill and poop on my trail.
Is Mr Owens' illness due to a potentially carcinogenic soil exposure (causing bronchitis?) or the unknown number of cigarettes he enjoys?

All snark aside, that exchange between Ms Sutton and Ms Potter was one of the single greatest comment threads I've ever read, and I am dating myself back to the early 1990s Usenet. Real names. Real hate. Keep up the good work!

Charlie Hales: Please resign. Stop giving away public resources to squatters who want nothing more than a "safe place" to use drugs and commit sexual assault. Portland is a homeless magnet and the more we tolerate it, the more we all suffer.

Dirk: shame on you for trying to legitimatize abuse of the public's interest. This isn't a solution, it's an attempt to expand the problem. Seriously, try writing something that's not blatantly regurgitated from the mouths of homeless "advocates" aka ex-Occupy Portland agitators whose only interest is "sticking it to the man". They don't really care about helping people get off the streets, they just want to push a hard-line anti-capitalist political agenda. This paper has become a joke.
Not that I wish anyone to have to be homeless or be homeless and live on contaminated property but many of the homeless camp in places that are contaminated all over town. Including, the Willamette Cove. They also tend to contaminate the locations that they decide to inhabit with trash, needles and human waste. There has to be a solution other than shuffling people from place without some plan to provide for waste management.
Assuming I fall into the "advocate" category, then there is a big problem with your statement in that "They don't really care about helping people get off the streets" assumes they can get off the streets. I know you'd like to say people like me "chose" to be homeless, but that is a horrid oversimplification. Closer to the truth would be that people have learned to see the good side of their situation. If I could afford an apartment I'd be there, but for a little while longer it is not happening. But just because I am here does not mean it should be illegale to find essentials like safety, a place to keep a sleeping bag instead of packing it everywhere, and a steady place to rest and operate from if not one to have peace and congregation (I know that one really pulls your middle class strings).

Were homelessness 'solvable' it would have been solved by now. What I 'advocate for' is not being herded like a rat and looking over my shoulder every night so I can get a nights rest and function during the day - yes functional ones do exist. If this is a "hard-line anti-capitalist political agenda" then all I can say is you capatilists got your head up your ass because if anything I've been fucking screaming at everyone on these papers that THERE IS A WAY TO MAKE MONEY OFF THE ISSUE all the while 'solving' the issue by recognizing that it is in fact a different way of life- one which needs to be legitimized on the rental market by doing away with walls and tents alike. This does not sound like anti-capitalism to me, it just sounds like thinking outside the boxes we're so used to.

...But if you were referring to other 'advocates' for tents then yeah I agree; wanting your own structure (even if it is a tent) which naturally incites territoriality and is the beginnings of the same sedentary agricultural/ monetary society based on property ownership which we already live in, yet at the same time calling it ":change" is hypocrisy at best. If your going to do something do it right.
Cora/Trena - Looks like we need some confirmation about whether or not people were sent to the site under the city's "behest" or if it's merely "tacit city approval". Looks like it's the city's standard Plausible Deniability Tango: "We're not-not telling you to go there... we take no responsibility for the site, but here, have a dumpster and a potty...." etc. If on June 2nd you're signing a document about investigating the site because of prior concerns about "potential environmental and human health risks", but five weeks before you told people to head on over there, sounds like some culpability there. Is there any documentation of the communication between the city and Mr. Owens?

Guido: I don't think it's really clear what you're advocating. I know you've been a proponent of sleeping in large groups and apparently are against tents, which leads to 1) mass sleeping exposed to the elements, which seems uncomfortable (at a minimum), 2) a barracks-style shelter (or underpass or parking garage) which... well, sure, but that's back to the whole zoning/money/location quagmire or 3) a barrack-style rooming house, which is a (semi-) privatized version of item 2 with similar issues.
Squatting is abuse of public lands and Trena is actively hurting the communities that have put years of hard work into Lents and beyond.

The city is denying they put people there, they do admit to knowing that the people were going to go there and that they failed to warn people of the potential health risks. I believe however, that they were very instrumental in putting people there from the beginning but wanted "plausible deniability" so the two advocates (or at least one of them) was thrown under the bus on this. Please look up the definition of Reckless Endangerment. As far as Pete Owen, he is a smoker and truly believed his breathing difficulty was due to Bronchitis and until more came forward advising me they were having the same types of problems I did not connect the dots. The campers are not looking for a payday, I offered to get an attorney for them to talk to at least but all they want is to try to live in peace and find some type of normal life. I will not waste my time in addressing some of the recent postings of my detractors. They are too closed minded and filled with that toxic substance called "hate" to waste my time on.
Things were far better 3 years ago BEFORE tents and before Hales street sweeps; both cases are different versions of the same principle; breaking people up with cops or separating them with tents. His real intent was to simply get them away from his front door at city hall and out of downtown away from a few of his business buddies and to hell if it works for the rest of us who have to live (or survive) in this city. And there is a difference between protection from rain falling overhead and partitioning oneself from all horizontal directions- a major difference.

I HATE shelters; they are costly as you say, they are disrespectful prisons which profit off of USING people as a cover for their business. What I am proposing is ENTIRELY privatized which would MAKE money rather than waste it on things that do not work. But yes zoning and location are obstacles as they are in any business- especially an unconventional one.

Keep up the good work Dirk. Pretty soon you'll go from a homelessness journalist to a homeless journalist.

I mean WTF?!?!?! Do you think by championing this cause you're making Portland a better city? This city is turning into a shithole and national laughing stock because nobody has the balls to put an end to the creeping dystopian future this city has become.

Legitimate multi-bed shelters, basic physical and mental healthcare, food, and basic job training/placement for a reasonable amount of homeless based on per-capita national averages. That's all that should be done. Anything more just encourages more mentally ill, drug addicted, and other homeless people to flock here.

This city is infested with gutter punks and mentally ill people. I could reel off dozens of "hot spots" in the downtown area alone. This is what people see when they come to Portland. 5 years ago they used to come back after visiting. Now visitors are telling anyone and everyone what a fucked up shithole Portland has become. It's disgraceful.

Keep championing this cause Dirk and it won't be long before you're surrounded by nothing but the people I've described above. Watching what's happened over the 9 years I've lived here turns my stomach. Imagine what this place will look like in another 9 or 10 years.

Thankfully though, I'll probably be gone by then.
Dirk is not championing this cause, he is reporting it. That is what good journalist do! It takes integrity to report on an unacceptable situation that the politicos want to sweep under the rug. If the EPA reports had said this was paradise free of any contaminates he would have did the story. The proof is in the pudding and the EPA report and the cities own limited admissions have illustrated what is happening. We all know if this had not been reported this type of situation would have occurred over and over again. Don't shoot the messenger, he did a great job and has the guts to get it to go!
Dirk is not championing this cause, he is reporting it. That is what good journalist do! It takes integrity to report on an unacceptable situation that the politicos want to sweep under the rug. If the EPA reports had said this was paradise free of any contaminates he would have reported on that. The proof is in the pudding and the EPA report and the cities own limited admissions have illustrated what is happening. We all know if this had not been reported this type of situation would have occurred over and over again. Don't shoot the messenger, he did a great job and has the guts to get it to go!
Trena, I see you're more than willing to overlook his blatant bias on the subject. He mashes out story after story about the homeless in Portland and how we need to do more for them. What you call reporting, I call an agenda.
Detractors always call it an agenda. Abuse no matter how small diminishes us all and reporting it really puts the spot light on an abuse, including this one.People need to ask the question, was it a moral and ethical action to authorize anyone to any degree to place any group of people on contaminated land. If it happened, it needs to be reported.
Trena, There's a reason why these areas are uninhabited in the first place. If housing and/or businesses aren't being constructed there, that's a serious red flag. The underlying policies of the city, if you can call them that, have led to a proliferation of ad-hoc homeless tent cities all over the place. If someone knowingly directed homeless people to an unsafe site, then yes, it does need to be reported.

However, I'm not about to label Dirk a hero for his biased bleeding heart reporting. It does nothing to address the underlying issues. I guarantee that if the city ever delegitimizes the ridiculous policies of allowing homeless camps and sleeping in front of properties in residential neighborhoods, Dirk will be leading the charge espousing how dehumanizing and cruel the local gov't officials and property owners are.

I, for one, and beyond sick of watching the city slowly being overrun by a transient and drug addicted population. Slowly may be a conservative description at this point. The downtown area is almost beyond saving and the east side is seeing new homeless camps popping up on an almost daily basis. Trust me when I say it won't be long before the homeless are moving into contaminated areas without local officials shepherding them there.

I used to be more optimistic and liberal about this situation, but the last 5 years have shown me that Portland has become a mecca for various undesirable populations.
Trayvon you speak as if big cities are better. From a street traveler perspective they are often much worse though. Dude got beat to death where I slept in Dallas. People go missing in LA. Denver is shit. NY I don't even know where they go- the city that never sleeps turns people into insomniacs because there is no place to sleep until you get to know the city well enough to find some underground city I guess- I did not hang around long enough to find out.

The crowd did not look nearly as degenerate 3 years ago when it was mass sleeping with no tents. Homelessness was centralized downtown away from neighborhoods. I heard people calling one another brother and sister more often than accusing one another of stealing. Volunteers came down seemingly for the fun of it, and I shit you not homeless folks looked much more healthy and happy than they do now. This is from an admittedly biased perspective but it is one which was there in person not just passing by.

Put a tent in place and people content with little more than a bag start hoarding and stealing shit. The peaceful no longer outnumber and put in check the un-peaceful as is plainly observed in many missions. Safety in numbers is obstructed along with any sense of community and trust, and either people show you a different side of themselves or lack of privacy just attracts a different crowd, either way shit gets worse.

Nobody - especially these politicians - seems to aknowledge that this is basic group dynamics, rather they speak about homelessness like something which can only be controlled or eradicated- as if people are genetically predisposed to show you their bad side. But I guarantee you that if you place them in a different environment you'll see a different side of the story and human nature will surprise you. Portland used to be unique in that it actually allowed this dynamic to take root outside, but now if follows other towns in that it routinely breaks people up. THAT is when it all started really turning for the worst- since then I've seen a lot change in the last 3 years and very rapidly. I've seen decent people either scatter off elsewhere or revert to drugs, and now those petty street vagrants are able to run the show downtown. People are accusing one another of stealing MUCH more than calling each other brother or sister. Overall people look fucking ragged and it starts to remind me of LA. Needless to say, I don't go downtown anymore.

Hundreds of millions of years of group selectivity telling us to join a group or die off means we are pack creatures and can be dealt with as such. There is no need to "control" a situation if you simply understand the nature of what your dealing with in which case you just need to set the right environment. Sleep IS a vulnerable act which gives people a reason to come together in numbers large enough such that the vagrants are outnumbered and put in check, and I have seen and felt it myself turn alienated jerks into peaceful if not friendly neighbors. Finding refuge for a nights rest free of looking over your shoulder is instinctive as is the trust which comes from it. You might even call it pack-identification. i know it sounds strange to those who spent their whole lives normalizing a society that has them broken up outdoors or indoors and separated, but in science observation is king, and this is just what i've observed. Take yourself out the box and see for yourself before you go telling city leaders to sweep people like rats because you have no idea the shit it causes.... IDENTIFY A REAL CAUSE don't just say "vagrants" or "homeless people" are the problem. FUCK TENTS, AND FUCK ALL OF YOU ON BOTH SIDES because your not solving shit. The things your asking for cannot be called change, so don't call it change, call it what it is; I want mine.

ps - good work Dirk.
guidogazz, what most people fail to realize is that this problem isn't solvable, it's only manageable at best. I'm not on the Gordon Gecko end of the spectrum, but having to go out and get yours is the way the world works. Not only on a societal level, but on the biological level as well. I'm all for helping those in need and that want help, but it's not mine or society's problem to solve for those who choose that lifestyle and/or have addiction issues.
I don't think homeless want peoples help or solutions half as much as they want their freedoms. No the problem is not solvable, but that is not to say we cannot change society and put options on the table- options which attempt to be conducive to what is a different way of life altogether rather than attempting to "solve" homelessness by giving everyone the modern standard of their own privacy. There is no reason being without private property needs to make an individual illegal.

As for people looking out for themselves being a biological fact I'd take it a bit further and call it a law of physics (entropy), but there is a caveat to that called the partition function which could explain why biologically for hundreds of millions of years we were in fact pack creatures- a genetic makeup which is still very much alive and kicking as is plainly evident when we go out to get wasted just identify or connect with others, or we drive a massive eco killing death machine instead of driving the bus so that people will not think us not worth associating with.

I'd explain my reasoning on that but I might loose you and anyone else who has made it this far, so I'll just shoot the link if your interested. Skip forward to the entropy section. http://www.departitionedhousing.com/spec…

More simply put though, when you take down the walls between people, there does exist a reality in which what is good for one is also good for the other. The thing is people are just so damn bent on walls and partitioning structures in general this reality cannot take root. Space (enough to roll out a mat during the night, to sit during the day, to clean oneself, etc.) is essential, not privacy. Sometimes I think many lose sight of the difference.
and why the HELL does not the city of portland have a public forum online for these things? This is BS.
Hey fellow brothers and sisters, my take on this whole "homeless" thang is that it shouldn't be a big deal. Let people be, let them live wherever they wish... and let the other working people subsidize this way of life. It's pretty cold hearted for people to say that they don't want to go to work, pay their taxes, invest in their houses/neighborhoods and NOT want to give a little more to these poor people down on their luck.

Whenever I hear people who live near the Springwater Corridor complain about the crime, the drug use, the fighting, the intimidation and the human waste that is simply just a by-product of the human condition, I feel a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Why can't these elitist homeowners open their hearts?

And if your house gets robbed: BIG DEAL. It's only material things and as a human race, we need to let go of our materialistic/capitalistic ways. Let it go... in fact, give it all away, buy a tent and join the people you've labeled animals. Go live with them, try meth for the first time, get into a good old-fashioned drug induced fight, steal a bike, use the outdoors as your open toilet... then you'll see that it's not their fault. THEN you'll see that we all need to give, give, give, give, give, give, pay, pay, pay, pay, pay for this lifestyle.

The best cure for drug addiction is a hug, free lollipops and days where rainbows abound. THAT is how you cure drug addiction, crime and in turn, homelessness!
I have been working many hours so I am just now catching up. I see a great deal of intelligence in this dialog and some that is proof of unintelligent life (mean spirited comments, that do not make a valid point that just wants to promote hate, I will not waste my time on them). The others...smart people. I agree we can't solve the problem of homelessness. What we can do is collectively work towards solutions that will stand the test of time. Tents are not the answer! Do we have people that will never be able to transition into a "normal" mainstream existence? Of course we will. It took me a very long time to realize we can't save everyone. Some will end up in mental institutions, prison or in the morgue. Many that I cared about already have. We can't become jaded and resign the fate to the furies. We fail Portland and we fail at being caring human beings. Hate is bad, apathy is worse.
whether they were directed or not ,the fact remains that we created the homeless situation thru media of national attention of Portland being weird ,having lax laws, and allowing the homeless to sleep, set up tents ,pile up garbage, run our neighborhoods down, and then we are expected to pay for clean up in hazard gear because of the human waste , needles, etc. why not make a homeless camp out at the Multnomah kennel club , there is bathroom facilities and Portland city owns that property. why not move them over in southeast area of Westmoreland . I am sure they would like the area its absolutely beautiful and I am sure the neighborhood would open the hearts to them or how about moving them over to where Hale and other city official live . We have been trying to uplift the southeast area for at least 10 years that I know of and now you want to tear the area down again. Quit giving them everything for free, where is the incentive to make them work to become better or get off the streets. They get a lot for nothing whereas I have to continue to work for my housing, utilities, food , medical, to name a few necessities, I see homeless better dressed than me cause I can't afford to buy even used clothes unless it really is necessary. I am tired of feeling sorry and made to feel guilty because I don't want to help them . Let the people that want to give them places to live take them into there homes and neighborhoods. Sorry Trent it is not hatred or Jaded or lack of caring for human beings. The fact is there are always going to be poor people and up until the last 20-30 years people who lost jobs etc pulled themselves up and went found work even picking in fields ,washing dishes , whatever it took to make and support themselves. Now we give them excuses not to take care of themselves or help themselves.