Homeless celebrate upgrades at Hazelnut Grove, but neighbors voice concerns

Hazelnut Grove homeless camp receives upgrades

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Jackie Hooper first spoke to KGW in August.  

"I'm Jackie and I've been homeless for about two and half months," she said in an interview then.

Hooper was homeless and living in a tent along the Springwater Trail. She said she became homeless after the bank took over the home where she was staying.

"I was scared to come down here, I was frightened," she said as she stood in front of her tent.

Fast forward about half a year and she's now living at Hazelnut Grove. It's situated near North Greeley Avenue and North Interstate in Portland.

She said she feels safe. Her tiny home is equipped with a keyless entry system and it even has a solar panel.

"This is a godsend. Because I can charge my phone. I can charge my battery packs. I can charge my light and then, plus I have light," she said. 

Joe Bennie, one of the directors of Hazelnut Grove said other developments in progress include a rain collection system and wind turbines that are on the way.

"Progress is awesome. We're about to start running water in our bathhouse. We'll finally have our own showers," said Bennie.

Not everyone is so thrilled to see the tiny homes popping up. People living in the Overlook Neighborhood say initially they thought Hazelnut Grove would only be set up for a year, but it's been about 18 months now.

The Chair of the Overlook Neighborhood Association, Chris Trejbal, said he recently spoke with city leaders. Trejbal said he wants Hazelnut Grove moved.

"This has always been a bad site for a camp because it's in a fire hazard zone and there is right now no oversight down there," said Trejbal.

Adding to his frustration: Seeing so much community input for a proposed tiny house village in the Kenton Neighborhood. Residents there recently approved the plan.

Community input is something neighbors near Hazelnut Grove say they didn't really have. Trejbal said the plan for the Kenton Neighborhood includes a service provider on site, an intake process, and a good neighbor agreement. He said the Overlook Neighborhood Association doesn't have any of that with Hazelnut Grove.

People living at Hazelnut Grove said they're working hard to keep the space from becoming an eyesore. 

Bennie said in the next two or three months, they hope to get rid of the construction materials that lay scattered in the area. They also plan to start working to beautify the trail outside the site.

To them, it is home.

"I love it. I wake up everyday and I'm thankful and yes, I have the best view in Portland," said Hooper. 

Meanwhile, folks with the Overlook Neighborhood Association say they will keep up their efforts and continue to talk to the city leaders about their concerns.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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