PORTLAND, Oregon — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has again extended an emergency declaration designed to accelerate the clearing of homeless camps along dangerous roadways.
The mayor’s office released a list of 50 sites said to have been cleared by the city since the declaration was first announced in early February.
Wheeler extended the emergency declaration so the work can continue along Portland’s 30 most dangerous streets, called “high-crash corridors," and near highways and interchanges controlled by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
The state transportation agency has worked with the city for years on this issue, and the past two months have been productive, said ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton.
“This is real progress that the city is making on this," he said. "We’re really pleased to be working with the city to move the ball forward a little,” said Hamilton.
The problem is far from over. There are still dozens more camps to clear and some homeless campers choose to return to the cleared sites.
“It’s a big problem and it’s a repeating problem and it keeps on coming back," Hamilton said. "The biggest issue as we’ve seen so tragically lately is that it’s a danger to the people that are camping next to the highways."
The most tragic recent example happened in Salem last Sunday when a driver ran off the road and into a homeless camp, killing four and injuring two more.
On the mayor’s list of cleared sites are some that continue to have issues.
On the northbound offramp from Interstate 205 to Southeast Powell Boulevard, there are a few campers who have either returned or newly arrived. However, there used to be many more campers there.
Another site on the list was at Southeast 60th and Powell, but one of the people camping there, Jaimie Graham, told KGW nobody has told her to move. A person camping one tent down from her said the same.
“A lot of people just come and go but I think I’ve been in this one spot for a year and half,” said 29-year-old Jeff Dannis.
However, staff with the mayor's office said part of site on Southeast Powell Boulevard was cleared on March 7.
One thing is clear — here are many people once again camping at that location along the roadway.