PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Residents in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Northeast Portland say the homeless problem in their area has become so out of control, it’s affecting their everyday lives.
The Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association hosted a public safety meeting with city officials Wednesday night to address their concerns. City leaders including Commissioner Dan Saltzman listened as resident after resident told stories of how they feel they’re losing their community.
They also shared videos and photos of needles in parks, zombie RVs parked on streets and human feces overrunning their quiet Portland suburb.
TJ Browning with the neighborhood association told KOIN 6 News people no longer feel safe in their neighborhood after a rise in crime including drug activity and break-ins.
“Homes are being robbed, bikes are being taken there’s syringes in our yards,” Browning said. “There’s human feces and waste all over the park. Our neighbors don’t go to the park.”
Proposed Safe Zone Ordinance by Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association
She said they’ve been working for a year trying to get officials to help them find a solution.
“I want to give Mayor Wheeler a lot of credit for showing real leadership on making sure the budget we just passed has a lot of resources deal with the livability crisis,” Saltzman said.
The neighborhood association has seen some change, including signs from the city that say “no camping” and in August 2016, Portland police swept a growing homeless camp in Laurelhurst Park.
Neighbors are demanding city leaders address the issue and stop looking the other way.
Homeless people living in the area say they are a community too. William Rogers, a homeless man living in Laurelhurst Park, said he has nowhere else to go. He carries all his belongings around in shopping carts.
“This is a very nice park and I really wish the police and everybody would stop pushing us homeless people around,” Rogers said. “It sucks. I gotta do everything in a shopping cart…. it’s not my fault, we’re not all bad.”
He encourages people not to be afraid of homeless people and to talk to them, ask them questions and offer them help.