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Problems With Portland Homeless Camp Clean-Up Program

An audit describes a number of issues with the city’s program to identify and remove illegal encampments.
March 29, 2019, 10am PDT | Camille Fink
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The Portland, Oregon, homeless camp clean-up program is falling short in many ways, according to a recently released audit. The One Point of Contact system lets people report illegal campsites, but users say the response is too slow and they do not receive notification about action taken.

The audit also shows that prioritizing campsites, which is supposed to be part of the reporting system, is not happening and that many complaints are not being addressed, reports Gordon R. Friedman. "The week of June 4, 2018, for example, the city received 680 complaints about homeless camps but never followed up on them in 254 cases, auditors concluded."

Homeless people report that they are not given enough notice before clean-ups happen. They say that they do not have time to pack up and move and that belongings are hard to retrieve from the storage warehouse. "The city also did not store valuables such as IDs, credit cards and prescription medications separately from shelves full of blankets, tent parts and other property," writes Friedman.

Auditors found that Portland residents disagree about the clean-up effort, with some feeling that it is harassment and others arguing for even harsher action, such as the arrest of people in illegal campsites. City officials say they will make changes to the program based on the audit’s recommendations.

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Published on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 in Oregon Live
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