More homeless people parking RVs in neighborhoods

RV sales up among Portland homeless

PORTLAND, Ore. -- More and more of Portland’s homeless appear to be putting down roots on wheels, parking their RVs along residential or city streets for days at a time.

People living in neighborhoods nearby contacted KGW, concerned that the city and police weren’t doing enough to keep streets clear and find a designated space for the homeless to park.

Neighbors near Southeast 168th Avenue and Powell Boulevard on Tuesday said a trio of RVs, one of which was for sale, had been there for more than a week.

One of them had sewage dripping from the bottom and trash, including caps for hypodermic needles, lining the curb.

“We've seen break-ins in the area go up. Car thefts, things like that,” said Amber, who asked KGW not to use her last name.

The mother of four boys under the age of six won’t let them play out front anymore.

They stay in the back yard, surrounded by a tall, wooden fence with a padlocked gate.

Rick Green leaves nearby and says, given the city’s lack of response to the problem, that’s not a bad course of action.

“It can be three weeks, a month,” he said. “You can report it, but I think they're having a lot of problems everywhere.”

Staff at Portland RV Wholesale say the trend is only just beginning.

“It's very hard to see, especially with people with families, kids, little kids,” said Robin Beal.

Beal and her coworker Kim Newport say their typical customer used to be adventurers, people looking to hit the open road.

Now, they’re seeing more and more people and families coming in after being priced out of their homes.

Beal says they typically ask for something “…under $10,000.”

Newport says the worst part is explaining to those families that parking for RVs is limited and, often, expensive.

The Mayor’s office is working on finding city-sanctioned space for people living in cars and RVs to park 24/7.

Earlier this year, the city of Seattle opened its first ‘Safe Lot’, which also provides electricity, bathrooms and security.

Tuesday a rep for Mayor Hales’ office confirmed, no such set-up has been arranged in Portland yet, but she said the city has its eye on church parking lots.

She also recommended people report illegal camping via the city’s ‘Homelessness Toolkit’ website.

In the meantime, many struggling to make ends meet in Portland are parking wherever they can find space.

For Kim Newport that meant a friends’ property.

The longtime RV sales clerk recently found herself homeless, too, after her landlord sold the house she was renting.

Newport now lives in an RV of her own.

“It's very tough,” she said. “I'm very lucky.”


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