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Southeast Portland homeless camp blocks first responders, school buses from passing through

Portland Fire & Rescue often has to deal with homeless camps obstructing narrow roads. If a camp is in their way, it's reported to the city.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It’s easy to miss the small, dead-end street off Southeast 82nd and Franklin in Portland. Those who live there like it that way.

“This community is great,” said Dianna Phillips, who’s lived on this street for 25 years. “I have felt safe here all my life, up 'til now.”

On Friday, a homeless camp moved onto the street — bringing with it a line of trailers, a tent and a collection of vans.

“We chose this spot because there's not a lot of people here,” said Mike, one of the homeless people from the camp.

“Right now, my neighbor cannot get out of his property,” said Stephen Udycz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. He said the line of trailers is blocking traffic from passing through.

“We've seen, so far, a garbage truck and a school bus try and get through, and they just had to turn around and go back ... I’m worried that if we did have a fire or an emergency situation, we wouldn't be able to get anything down the street,” Udycz said.

As it turns out, this isn't a new problem for emergency vehicles. Portland Fire & Rescue has to deal with obstructions on narrow roads — often posed by homeless camps and trailers — all the time. And if a homeless camp gets in their way, it'll be reported to the city's Community Safety Division.

“I try to make sure my van's parked off on the side, I know it's a big ol' hunk of junk that takes up a lot of room,” said a man who camps on this street, who goes by the name Rebel. “Everybody here tries to be super respectful. We're all hurting in one way or another.”

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is responsible for removing vehicles like this that block streets and driveways. Because of this, those who camp here know it’s just a matter of time before they are moved again.  

“We play it day by day," said Miked. "When we're told to move, we find a new spot.”

“It's frustrating when you have to go to work and pay your bills and other people are taking the system free,” added Phillips. 

PBOT posted the vehicles for removal Monday and made sure neighbors could safely get out of their driveways. They ask people to report sites like this by calling 311.

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