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Longtime Portland business says it's losing customers due to large homeless camp

The Impact Reduction Team has assessed this property seven times over the past 60 days. Each time it’s scored well above the matrix needed for removal.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Off North Columbia Boulevard sits a junk yard-turned RV storage facility that's been in the White family since the '70s. It’s now being overrun by a nearby homeless camp, according to the family.

Walking through the yard on Wednesday, Jeffrey White pointed out different RVs that were broken into within the past week.

“This is one of our customers — his storage thing was ripped off, his lock was busted.” 

White said that homeless people from a large encampment next door keep breaking in and stealing from them.

When KGW first went to the camp two months ago it was at the top of the city’s removal list, but it’s still there. Nearby business owners say that the problem is only getting worse.

RELATED: ‘I’m taking over’: North Portland homeless encampment charges rent for houseless people to stay

“It's costing a lot of money,” said White. “We're down ten spaces, which translates to $1,000 a month.”

Those empty spaces were all occupied by customers who have now taken their business elsewhere because of the camp, according to White.

“We are losing sleep on top of losing money," added Tamera White, who also works at Curt’s RV and Storage.

They've called the police and reported this to the city, but nothing changes.

“The mayor, he's wanting people to work with him ... what more can we do?” said White. “We're telling the police department all these shots we're hearing, we're telling all the theft that's going on, my wife has emailed all the city commissioners, the mayor and no response.”

The city told KGW that its Impact Reduction Team has assessed this property seven times over the past 60 days and it is scheduled to be removed soon. At each assessment, the camp scored well above the matrix needed for removal.

RELATED: ‘Work with me’: Mayor Ted Wheeler pleads with Portlanders to not give up on the city

The camp now has tall fences, tarps and no trespassing signs, which were recently put up after police came to the camp.

“The police were in here looking for stolen things,” said Grace, who runs the camp under the name Grace’s Oasis. One of the signs on the fences reads “No Vacancies.” Grace said 15 people are living there now and it’s getting too crowded.

“It’s my sanctuary,” she said. “I wanted it to be that for other people too. People who don't fit into society, people who are the rejects of the rejects of the rejects.”

She said no one living there has a job and the majority live off Social Security.

Portland police told KGW they were at the camp Friday night for a report of gunshots, but officers didn't find any evidence of gunfire. They say they often get calls about this camp.

Grace said that if the city clears the camp, she won’t leave.

“I’ll chain myself to the oak tree that's back there. They're going to have to literally physically remove me carry me out of here.”

“I don't know what more we can do,” said White. “Maybe city hall can tell us what more we're supposed to do.”

RELATED: Neighbors frustrated over NE Portland homeless camp that moved in two years ago and never left

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