Business owners say homeless, drugs deter customers

Business owners say drug use is a big issue

Business owners in downtown Portland say homeless people sitting and sleeping on the streets is turning away customers. (KOIN)
Business owners in downtown Portland say homeless people sitting and sleeping on the streets is turning away customers. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The owners of local businesses in downtown Portland are worried homeless people sleeping on the streets is turning customers away.

Moe Achour, the owner of Al-Amir Lebanese Restaurant on SW Stark and 2nd Avenue, said what’s most bothersome to businesses near Al-Amir is drug use.

Food cart owner Pierre Prevost said vandalism, trash and needles are adding to the issue.

“I will have customers walking away from the cart, you have the street kids around scratching their belly,” Prevost said. “They are just standing in front of the customers.”

Ryan Colp, who works downtown and frequents the food cart pod on Stark, said this doesn’t deter him from going into a business because it’s so common.

“A lot of trash is what I see normally. which is kind of gross,” Colp said. “I know where I used to work, they moved out of downtown, off 1st and Market, just because there was a big homeless issue and it was kind of a deterrent when clients came into the office.”

Report homeless camping

Not everyone feels that way though, especially tourists. Several in the area told KOIN 6 News if people are loitering in front of doorways, they won’t go inside the shops.

The issue has prompted Achour to demand help from City Hall to get it under control. He said he tried to go to the mayor, but was passed around to what felt like 6 different people.

“There are a couple things we could do,” Mayor Ted Wheeler told KOIN 6 News about these concerns. “Declare certain areas high-pedestrian corridors, if that is appropriate. We are obviously stepping up the community policing patrols.”

Wheeler encouraged people with complaints to call and leave their phone number with his office.

Business owners did say police came through and cleared the sidewalks Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

“It looks like they took care of the problem, I don’t know for how long, we’ll see,” Prevost said.