PORTLAND --The homeless camps in Lents neighborhood, close to where a TriMet driver was stabbed Wednesday have been growing over the past several months.
Lents is a blue-collar neighborhood where the heat of an afternoon doesn’t stop the ball games. It’s also where more transients have chosen to stay this year.
“In like the last four months, that camp came, and that camp and that camp came,” said camper Lacey Hippensteel, describing how homeless outposts have popped up in the area.
Hippensteel and her group said drugs and violence are not what they’re about. But nearby, another young man was preparing a syringe to take drugs in broad daylight.
“It’s a concern. It’s something that the whole community is aware of. It seems to be growing,” said Alpha Hayward, a pastor and Lents resident.
Hayward ministers to some of the homeless here.
“We need more things in the Southeast side so we can help folks that want to get help. And folks that don’t want help and are causing problems. We really need to crack down on that,” Hayward said.
Along Interstate 205, there is another homeless camp under trees along the freeway wall.
Jerry Senick said he and his wife share a tent up there and they’ve been homeless for two years. He said if the TriMet attacker is a transient, and they need to be off the streets.
“Most of the homeless people are economically destitute, you know? But there are some who just don’t belong out here in public, and the public needs to have a place for these people to go,” Senick said.
The property, and the area under I-205, is managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation. It said state law only allows them to give notice and clear people out on occasion, but it can’t prevent them from returning.
Some of the homeless said they want to stay in peace.
"You know, were just trying to live,” Senick said.
Police said most of the calls they get to camps like are for public intoxication, fights, and property crimes. If it was a transient responsible for this latest knife attack, it once again raises bigger concerns.
KGW reporter Tim Gordon contributed to this report.