PORTLAND, Ore. -- A self-run homeless camp, which operated for a year with the city’s blessing, has now been given the boot.
Yellow eviction notices, posted throughout Forgotten Realms on North Kirby Avenue, state campers will be cleared out on Feb. 6. Their belongings will be protected for a few weeks after that.
The move, unprecedented during Portland’s housing crisis, came a month after a fire in the camp damaged the house next door.
Kevin McGuire, who’s lived in Forgotten Realms for a year said Thursday the eviction feels like a raw deal.
“In one of these other neighborhoods, if somebody's house burned down and damaged their neighbor's house, then the whole neighborhood has to get up and move?” he said. “I mean, why should we have to just because one house caught on fire and her house got damaged? I mean we're sorry that it happened. Accidents happen. It wasn't done deliberately.”
The “she” McGuire talked about is Portland attorney Raylynna Peterson, who lives in the house on North Kirby and runs her family law practice out of the basement.
Back in December, the day of the fire, Peterson said she felt for the campers.
Still, the damage done to her house was last straw.
“I don't want this camp to stay here because now my children have been put at risk,” she said, referring to her two daughters.
The family was forced to run out of their home when the fire broke out.
Flames shattered her teenage daughter’s bedroom window.
The city reportedly promised, then, to make the camp move, agreeing it was no longer safe, but a new mayor and new onslaught of problems arrived first.
That list included severe winter weather through the first half of January.
The city promised not to sweep homeless campers during Portland's record cold snap, but Thursday, city staff confirmed they did not suspend operations surrounding planning and posting future sweeps.
Forgotten Realms fell under that category.
Those living at the camp said Thursday planning a move in the winter months is difficult, even when temperatures are above freezing.
“It's going to start raining again, probably snowing again. Who knows,” said McGuire. “I'm not a weather man so I can't really tell, but I know the rain's going to come, and it's just rough on people having to move.”
Still, it’s a process campers are planning for.
It’s also a process that frustrates leaders at Hazelnut Grove, another recently founded city-sanctioned homeless camp, at North Interstate and Greeley.
Organizers there camp as a model to be copied, and they'd hoped Forgotten Realms would follow suit.
Now, not only has that effort failed, but their movement has lost a centrally located piece of land.
“Losing that property back out of the mix is really, really critical because we need to be opening more of these villages,” said founder Joe Bennie. “And so there's a possibility, and we at the Village Coalition have been like, ‘Let us redesign it, reopen it!’”
Bennie said members of the Coalition, a group of organizers dedicated to exploring housing and shelter options for Portland’s homeless, have made that offer to the city but have heard nothing in return.