PORTLAND, Ore. -- The hillside to the north of Interstate 84, near downtown Portland, was littered with garbage.
“We’re finding a lot of camps. A lot of very muddy clothing and a lot of needles. Sharps,” said Tiffany Gates, one of the leaders of a team cleaning up the mess.
This week, the regional government, METRO has a team cleaning the hillsides. It will spend three days there, but it will not be enough.
“Well, we’ve already filled up two and a half trailers and we’ve been working about three hours,” said Gates.
She predicts they'll haul out 15 trailer loads of garbage before they're done.
The trash is left by homeless campers.
They're becoming more visible on both sides of the interstate.
Nathan Mitchell had to call 911 when a big blue shelter near the Northeast 21st Avenue overpass caught fire recently.
“The more I’ve passed it the more I’ve felt negatively about it, I think. But I feel sympathy for them and I think we should do more for them, you know, in our society as well,” he said.
Many are torn between the mess and the people who cause it.
“I definitely am not a fan but it’s not like they have any place else to go,” said Natasha Rose who walks past he campers.
But many do not like the impact the garbage from the campers has on the rest of us.
“I mean, I understand that people are homeless, I feel bad for that,” said Elisa Raidt. “But you can’t leave needles out where kids can get them or whoever,” she said.
Needles are perhaps the trickiest, the most dangerous part of the cleanup here.
They're hard to see in the thick brush but they are there, waiting by the hundreds, left most likely by heroin users.
The cleanup team picked up an estimated 400 in the first few hours of their work today.