Homeless sweep debate pits neighbor against neighbor in Montavilla

Neighbors debate Montavilla homeless crisis

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Neighbors packed the Montavilla United Methodist Church in NE Portland Monday to discuss a much debated resolution regarding homeless campers.

The Montavilla Neighborhood Association issued the resolution last month, asking Portland city leaders to not allow homeless camps to be swept in their neighborhood. 

“It was a statement we made that was simply asking that the city stop endorsing sweeps as a tactic, and try to come up with some alternative solutions,” said Jonathan Ogden, Vice Chair of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association.

Many neighbors said they didn’t agree with the resolution and voiced their frustration at Monday’s meeting.

“I think there's a portion of the neighborhood who felt blindsided by the resolution,” said one woman, who lives in the Montavilla neighborhood.

Another woman shared how homeless campers had intruded on her property.

“We've had to cut our bushes down because people are pooping in our front yard, they're throwing needles in our yard,” she said.

“We've seen assaults, we've seen break-ins, we've had theft on a grand scale,” added a man who lives in the neighborhood and disagreed with the resolution.

Others at the meeting acknowledged the neighborhood’s homeless who hadn’t been committing crimes.

“What about the people who've been forced to live on the street by gentrification?” said homeless advocate, Ibrahim Mubarak.

Some neighbors said the resolution represented a new way of helping people who are living on the street.

“We have people who want to defend the status quo of a failed policy and we have people who want to support trying something different for a change,” said a man in favor of the resolution.

Ogden said at the very least, he was glad to see so many people at the meeting discussing a solution, together.

“It's good to see the neighborhood invigorated around certain issues,” said Ogden. “I think controversy's good because sometimes it'll bring up new solutions.”

The board didn’t take a vote on any action regarding the resolution, but planned revisit the issue at a town hall meeting scheduled for July 29.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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