PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An embattled homeless encampment in downtown Portland will get a permanent spot in a different location.
An agreement between the encampment and the city, announced Monday, ends a nearly two-year standoff that saw the campers assemble tarps and stoves next to one of Portland’s busiest thoroughfares.
The encampment “has provided shelter and other services for an average of 60 people per night who otherwise would have been forced to sleep on the streets,” organizer Ibrahim Mubarak said in a press release. “This agreement shows that the city is acknowledging the problem and starting to work with us instead of against us.”
The property owner, Michael Wright, once owned an adult bookstore on the lot, but the city shuttered it and he razed the building. He tried to use the land as a food-cart pod, but the city shut that down, too.
Wright said in an October 2011 televised interview he would allow anyone to occupy the lot. Mubarak saw the segment and took him up on the offer days later.
The encampment, named by its residents “Right 2 Dream Too,” sprung up in mid-October 2011, just days after the Occupy Portland protest put down roots across town. In tents and under tarps, between 50 and 60 people took shelter from the elements, cooked and showered on the half-acre lot.
But the city said the campground couldn’t continue to exist. The homeless call the encampment a “rest area,” which would give it legal cover from a ban on camping in Portland city limits. City officials said inspectors determined it was a campground and had to register as such.
The city soon began to issue code violations to the encampment, which went unpaid.
The agreement announced Monday vacates the fines and assigns the encampment a permanent spot under the Broadway Bridge, near train, bus and light-rail stations.
Officials had said the camp could have come under compliance, and the city would even consider lessening the fines, if the encampment would submit to obtaining a campground permit. Mubarak and Wright said they didn’t trust the city’s motivations.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.