Community confronts homeless camp issues near Springwater Trail

Community confronts homeless camping issues

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Ten to 15 tents line a section of the Springwater Trail in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood and people living in the area said they’re concerned.

“I don't really feel comfortable walking on the trail unless I have my dog with me,” said Rebecca Price.

The discomfort and unease is being felt by others in the community as well. It’s because of the reputation the encampment is getting.

“We've seen an increase in violence and criminal activity,” said Eric Wikoff, the Chair of the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association.

Another issue people said they want resolved is all the trash in the area.

“There's garbage, beer cans, alcohol strewn all over the place, needles, It's just disgusting,” said Aaron Charnstrom, who lives in the neighborhood.

On Thursday, community members gathered at the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center to brainstorm solutions.

Besides the safety of neighbors and surrounding businesses, people at the meeting focused on the safety of the campers.

“We’re finding cases of frostbite,” said Ree Kaarhus, with Boots on the Ground PDX. “They’re going to the hospital, getting amputations and being released back out into tents."
       
Many at the meeting suggested that the first step in finding a solution is appreciating the need.

“If I was homeless, cold and hungry, I would hope that somebody would spend a little more time worrying about me,” said neighborhood leader Robert McCullough. 

He's worried that elected officials aren’t concentrated on that.

“We need a focused, practical approach to these things,” McCullough said.

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