400 used needles found during homeless camp cleanup

One neighbor is thinking of moving after 41 years

Used needles
A container of used drug needles found in the Montavilla neighborhood, May 4, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Crews continued their cleanup of trash and debris left on the Springwater Trail after dozens of homeless camps were removed Tuesday.

It was the largest homeless camp cleanup since January. Now many are wondering where those people will go.

The Mayor’s office says it’s inevitable some campers from the Springwater Trail will move to other illegal camps in the area. But he says the city is working to open up a new shelter space as soon as possible.

Dan Bresnehan lives in the Montavilla neighborhood and says he’s worried campers will move nearby. He says he’s already dealing with problems related to transients.

Used needles
A container of used drug needles found in the Montavilla neighborhood, May 4, 2016 (KOIN)

“They leave their garbage wherever,” Bresnehan said. “They throw their needles wherever.”

He recently found a box of 400 used needles that were collected by Multnomah County. An official with the county was unsure how the box got there, but said it was an example of the opiate epidemic the community is facing.

Employees of a car dealership near the Springwater Trail say homeless people took over 2 older cars in a back lot and left behind needles and other trash items.

“These are obviously things that we don’t want to touch,” dealership employee Jacob said. “We’ve had… defecation in the cars, on the ground. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Jacob says the dealership called police several times, but few arrests were made.

Homeless people accused of trashing cars at dealership near Springwater Trail. (KOIN)
Homeless people accused of trashing cars at dealership near Springwater Trail. (KOIN)

He says the lawless behavior by transients in the area affects business.

“We are having customers on our lot, looking to purchase a car… yelling profanities at them, threatening their lives, our lives,” Jacob said. “It’s horrible for business.”

Meanwhile, as the displaced homeless group moves to other spots, ‘No Camping’ signs have gone up near Bresnehan’s house and along the Springwater Trail.

“That gives us the ability with police and park rangers to actually just trespass people when they start setting up,” says Josh Alpert, Chief of Staff for Mayor Charlie Hales.

The county blames the increase in needles on a rise in opioid addictions.

If you find a used syringe, call 503.988.3030 for directions on proper disposal.

KOIN 6 News reporter Jennifer Dowling contributed to this report

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