PORTLAND, Ore. -- Residents at a new homeless camp admit they want it to be a carbon copy of Hazelnut Grove, which formed near North Interstate and Greeley Avenues back in September.
“Having organization and having common code of conduct and people trying to do a common thing is what makes it work,” said Hazelnut Grove spokesman Joe Bennie.
Initially, Bennie and other organizers kept it small and manageable, under 15 people.
But once word got out, numbers skyrocketed. At its peak, Bennie counted about 70 people.
The mayor’s office has since promised to let the camp stay, provided they bring numbers back down.
The city even supplies porta potties, trash pickup and, this week, they paid to put up a fence around the original camp.
Now, many forced to leave Hazelnut Grove have traveled south to the new camp, intent on replicating Hazelnut Grove’s success.
Bennie says that was always the idea.
“We figured if we built a model that actually worked and functioned, that this would be the best way to help everybody that's stuck in our situation throughout Portland,” he said. “And it can be done.”
But not everyone is applauding these efforts.
Those living near Hazelnut Grove have been asking the city to crack down on the camp for months, citing evidence, they say, of drug-use and theft.
Residents warned officials if nothing was done, more camps would start to pop up across Portland.
This latest site, they say, is evidence that they were right.
“Everyone should be paying attention because the city has indicated they want Hazelnut Grove to be a model for how this can take place for every other neighborhood in the city,” said Chris Trejbal of the Overlook Neighborhood Association. “The right solution is finding housing for these people and not putting them outdoors.”
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