Developers, leaders working towards deal on homeless camp move

Developers, leaders working towards deal on homeless camp move

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by KGW.com staff

kgw.com

Posted on October 5, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Updated Saturday, Oct 5 at 10:42 AM

PORTLAND -- Neighbors and developers in Portland’s Pearl District don't like the idea of a tent city moving into their neighborhood and for weeks they've been adamantly against the proposal to move the Right to Dream Too camp under the Broadway Bridge.

But all of a sudden, they want to help find a home for the homeless, and city leaders are intrigued.

The debate on whether to move the camp from Northwest 4th Avenue and West Burnside Street to the new location had become so heated two groups even threatened to sue.

Background: Vote delayed for Portland homeless camp move

Since October 2011, the homeless camp has existed in Portland’s Old Town, and by all accounts, they've been pretty good neighbors.

"There's been no calls for police service. They're self governed. They're drug free, alcohol free, weapons free,” said Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Fritz said the camp has never applied for the proper permits, so she suggested moving them to a space under the Broadway Bridge.

More: Deal reached to move Old Town homeless camp

“We have an ongoing challenge of how we are going to take care of people who don't have enough money to have an apartment or home here in Portland,” she said.

Since the proposal went public, the Pearl District Neighborhood Association and local developers have been crying foul. They've even threatened to sue the city.

At Thursday night's public hearing, they pledged to help find a legitimate space for the camp.

“If we can put roofs over that head instead of tents I think everyone would be better off,” said Christie White who represents the neighborhood association and those developers.

She said they're already hard at work.

“(We’ve been) talking to people, doing surveys, seeing what buildings may be available, talking to people with expertise in this arena,” she said.

It's a show of good faith not going unnoticed by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

"We're going to give the folks in the pearl district and others a chance to step up and help with a community problem. Homelessness is everybody's problem,” he said.

City commissioners are scheduled to meet again the week after next. At that point they can do a number of things: vote to move the space, take more public comment, or discuss a new proposal.

You can catch the full interviews with Fritz and White on Straight Talk at 11:35 p.m. Sunday night on KGW.

More: Straight Talk

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KGW reporter Mike Benner contributed to this report.

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