Portland ad agency grapples with graphic homeless issues, frustrated by city response

Portland business fed up with homeless crisis

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Partners at an advertising agency in the heart of downtown Portland say the city’s homeless crisis has taken a grisly turn, right outside their window.

John Holmes and staff at SQ1, located at Southwest 2nd Avenue and Oak Street, said that in recent weeks, employees have seen and filmed multiple people injecting themselves with drugs, having sex and defecating in the parking lot next to their business.

They say employees have also found fecal matter on the sidewalk and street next to their building.

"Reasonable people go to work and don't expect to see people having sex and, you know, needle drug use right outside your area, or walk in and there's a huge defecation in the middle of the elevator," he said.

Holmes said he and others at SQ1 have contacted the Portland Police Bureau and Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office for help. But in an email, he told KGW, “They aren’t responding to our repeated emails to them with photos and videos of the incidents.”

It’s the latest in a series of clashes between the city’s business community and embattled homeless population.

In late January, the owners of Nia dance studio announced they were relocating from the historic Pythian Building downtown, citing safety concerns about homeless campers in the area.

Earlier this week, developers of the Grove Hotel filed a lawsuit against the owners of a lot at Northwest 4th Avenue and West Burnside Street. The lot has, for years, been the city-sanctioned location of Right to Dream Too, a self-run homeless camp.

Developers claim the camp, which the city promised last year to move, violates zoning codes and hurts development efforts in the neighborhood.

KGW reached out to the Mayor’s office Friday morning about SQ1’s complaints.

Saturday, spokesman Michael Cox sent a response via email. He wrote, "The mayor's office is working with the private property owner to put a property management company in place and to increase police presence in the area."

KGW also received an email from staff at the Joint Office of Homeless Services, explaining that the city and Multnomah County have allocated tens of millions of dollars to prevent and alleviate homelessness and shelter capacity has nearly doubled in the past year. 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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