PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Police on Tuesday said they would start focusing efforts on cleaning up the homeless camps on the city’s central east side.
The areas of focus will include Eastbank Esplanade, Water Avenue and the St. Francis/Washington High School area.
Police will be coordinating an outreach, education and enforcement effort with various agencies during the process.
Just over a year ago, Portland Police did a homeless cleanup. Business owners and neighbors say that they are back to square one, however.
Others claim the homeless camps are the worst in 30 years. Many residents are worried the camps are a public safety issue.
Gina McLeane, who said she’s been living on the streets for about 5 years, doesn’t just want to be a number.
“We’re not dangerous people. We’re just homeless people,” she said.
She had a steady job, but after her husband was killed in a car accident, her normal life was destroyed. Alcohol and drugs became her family.
Fr. John Patrick Riley, the pastor of St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church, said on some mornings they could see up to 140 people looking for a warm meal and hygiene kit.
“The problem here is there is not enough affordable housing. There are not enough shelter beds,” Fr. Riley said. “We can’t fix anybody, we can’t fix the problem, but what can do is offer a healthy alternative to life on the street.”