OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Authorities in Oregon City say that ever since a day shelter opened in the city’s historic McLoughlin neighborhood, 911 calls to report problems with transients has increased.
“The homeless need the service that they provide. Where the conflict in this type of community comes up is that some people simply don’t want it in their neighborhood,” said Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band.
Band explained that when the Father’s Heart Street Ministry opened in late 2012, police received just over 100 calls about the homeless, but after the first full year in operation, the number has risen to 587.
“We had 587 calls, and the only thing that really changed in town was their presences in terms of transients,” said Band.
Not all of those calls though were crime-related. Some were simply reports about the homeless in the community, but Band said the numbers do reflect an increase in crimes such as public urination, camping, public intoxication, trespassing and theft.
“We need places like this, but have we noticed that it’s impacted the livability of our neighborhood? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely it has,” said Band.
Some neighbors said they have seen firsthand how the day shelter, which offers free meals, clothing, showers and medical services, has been an invaluable resource in people’s live.
However, others said they won’t let their children play at the nearby park anymore.
“My concern has been that the park that’s right across the street from it services a pre-school for Marylhurst College, and it does make me concerned for some of the people who are over in the park are awfully close to the children,” said Wanda Wehling.
Calls to Terri Gant, the director of Father’s Heart Street Ministry, were not immediately returned, but she had told KOIN 6 News in the past that the root problem is not the day shelter.
“The solution – what is the solution? More food and shelter for the homeless, so there isn’t such a large number that’s using a facility that’s right near you,” said Wehling.
City commissioners said they are looking into the problem to determine if they can help find a solution, which could require rezoning.