PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland man is sharing his plan to move homeless campers from the Springwater Trail to Eastmoreland, where Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury reside.
Community organizer Jessie Sponberg came up with the idea and is eyeing the grassy median near Reed College as a location. He said he disapproves of the mayor’s plan to sweep the Springwater Trail on Aug. 1. He hopes neighbors in Eastmoreland will call Hales with their disapproval of Sponberg’s proposed alternative.
“If there's one thing I’ve learned about Portland, it’s that having the mayor's number on speed dial and being able to reach Chair Kafoury is how things get done,” said Sponberg. “The mayor put out an ultimatum: The people on the trail have 10 days. Well, the people of Eastmoreland have seven days to come up with a solution.”
Sponberg said he believes there's money to create small, self-governed homeless camps in each of Portland’s neighborhoods, like the one in Hazelnut Grove. He believes that would be a way to care for the homeless without allowing others to profit off of them.
But Hales is standing by his sweep of the Springwater Trail.
“You know, people will protest what we're doing but we're going to do this with care and with heart,” Hales said. “We need to have safe places for people to sleep, open more shelters, including this week. I want homeless people to find refuge someplace other than on a tent or a trail.”
Hales also said he wasn’t concerned about Sponberg’s plan.
“I understand in this business there’s always controversy,” he said. “This is tough stuff and every big city is dealing with homelessness and we are actually making progress.”
“That's lip service,” Sponberg said of Hales' response. “People keep wanting to talk about shelters. Shelters are disgusting places to live.”