Dire Straits: Families are escaping Portland in large numbers, running from homeless camps and crime

In North Portland, “For Sale” signs line what were once sought-after neighborhoods. Due to an increase in violence and homeless camps in that area, many families are selling their homes. Greg Dilkes, who has lived in North Portland for 30 years said: “It makes you not feel that great about living here. It makes living in the neighborhood harder, not as congenial as it could be.” The homeless camps along the Peninsula Crossing Trail near his home have changed the area, Dilkes said. “It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve actually seriously thought about moving,” he added.

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Mark Smith, who shares a backyard with the camp, also added: “Mental health, drug addiction and just not having access to housing.” He and his partner often don’t feel safe walking alone or tending to their gardens, Smith said, reported KGW. “Every day if you go from one end of the street to the other, you’re confronting some very difficult situations, people in really dire straits,” he said. Smith’s partner Maria Inocencio said: “It’s a little scary because I know there is mental illness and that concerns me.”

TT Sanchez, who lives in one of the camps along the Peninsula Crossing Trail, said: “We are the most harmless people you’ll ever meet. They shouldn’t be scared of us for what because we live outside? That’s the only reason you should be scared of us because we live outside so if we lived in four walls and a house and stuff would you still be scared of us?”

At least three families along McKenna Avenue are leaving due to nearby homeless camps, North Portland neighbors told KGW. Lauren Iaquinta, a real estate broker, sees it first hand. “I would say the migration to the suburbs, I’ve seen quite a bit in the last two years. Most people don’t want to have to worry about if they can leave their car parked in their driveway overnight without maybe having it broken into. It’s a pretty testy subject,” said Iaquinta.

Iaquinta now vets the areas, when working with clients, to see if there are nearby homeless camps. “It’s neighborhood by neighborhood. You can be driving through North Portland and you’re in this lovely area where there are no issues, and then you can make a turn around the corner and have homeless camps there. It’s kind of sad. I’ve been doing this for 10 years here in Portland and it’s changed quite a bit,” she said.

Along Peninsula Crossing Trail, the city is planning to build a Safe Rest Village, where many homeless campers in the area could go, although there is no timeline for when that project will be completed. It will be a temporary village when it is completed, that will only be there for about three years, as there are plans that after that a permanent affordable housing development will take its place.

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The city’s Safe Rest Village team said that, as for the people currently camping along the trail, Portland’s Impact Reduction Program outreach workers and navigation teams have visited weekly, since before the Safe Rest Village was announced, to offer them services, shelter options, and other resources to meet their immediate needs. Many campers have expressed interest in the outdoor shelter model, as they met with the Safe Rest Village team.

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