PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Twenty-eight people are settling in at a homeless camp they call Hazelnut Grove, complete with a code of conduct, kitchen, tents on platforms and a warming shelter under construction.
The camp is located on Greeley Avenue just off Interstate Avenue. Some in the nearby Overlook Neighborhood near Overlook Park want the campers removed. They say the camp is already causing problems.
Up to 20 more people are camping just outside the boundary of Hazelnut Grove and the city is allowing them all to stay.
Camp advocate Vahid Brown told KOIN 6 News, “It’s just been an incredible success of the houseless advocating for themselves, organizing themselves, using their own labor and own time to make a workable tent community.”
“This is not an ideal situation at all. In a lot of ways it’s horrific.”
But nearby resident Tim Butler said, “We are not, as a neighborhood, anti- homeless, but rather we are pro-neighborhood. We are pro-safety and pro- fairness.”
He said it’s an inappropriate place for the city to allow a homeless camp.
Several neighbors told KOIN 6 News they’re seeing an increase in vandalism, littering, panhandling, and they’re seeing overflow foot traffic from the camp leading to more homeless people sleeping in Overlook Park.
At the opening of a veterans homeless shelter in downtown Portland, Mayor Charlie Hales’ Chief of Staff Josh Alpert said the city will support tent camps until there are more shelter options.
“This is not an ideal situation at all. In a lot of ways it’s horrific, but this is better than the alternative,” he said. “If not this than what? We go back to what we’ve seen all over the city of giant camps sprawling that aren’t organized in any way, chop shops happening.”
Alpert said he sees the camp as a temporary solution. “We are working on a policy now that will take city-sanctioned land and move camps onto that land.”
That’s not what neighbors in the Overlook area want to hear.
“If they really want to look out for the homeless people they should look to get these individuals indoors for the winter, which is going to be a cold, wet winter,” Butler said.