The Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program is responsible for coordinating campsite cleanups on property and right-of-way owned by the City of Portland or the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Assessing campsites is part of the Impact Reduction Program's work to reduce the impacts of homelessness today while partner programs expand access to safe, affordable housing.
Removing campsites is a last resort. However, many city streets and parks were not designed for extended camping. Without access to hygiene and other services, locations can become health and safety hazards – not just to the surrounding community, but to people living in encampments too.
How the process works
Campsite assessment begins when a community member reports a concern, generating a work assignment to dispatch a crew with lived experience. The work team engages with people at the site, offers resources, picks up garbage identified by campers and conducts an assessment based on established criteria:
- Conspicuous drug use or paraphernalia
- Impact on neighborhood livability
- Proximity to school, park with playground or private residence
- Environmental impact
- Restricts access by Americans with Disabilities Act standards
- Posted no-trespassing
- Size of camp
- Reported violence or crime
- Blocking public access
- Restricts maintenance
Based on the assessment, sites that pose the highest risk to health and safety are scheduled for removal.
The City posts a legal notice to inform people their campsite will be removed in two to 10 days. People are encouraged to remove personal belongings, and outreach crews visit as many sites as possible to connect people to services.
When campsites are removed, personal property is stored for at least 30 days. People at encampments are encouraged to call and schedule a time to pick up their items.
Dignity and respect
The City acknowledges that campsite removals can cause trauma. We continually work to minimize that trauma by establishing clear expectations and training for outreach teams.
Our contract requires that crews be “polite, diplomatic and professional at all times, and treat all persons with dignity and respect.” Required trainings and policies include nonviolent de-escalation, assertive engagement with neuro-diverse individuals, provision of medicine to reverse narcotic overdoses, CPR and the availability of an on-call mental health associate.
First responders to campsites were formerly homeless themselves, drawing on lived experience when they engage with people at the site. About 75 percent of people employed by the City contractor that conducts site removals also have lived experience.
Report a campsite
To report concerns about a campsite, visit PDX reporter or call the City's Information and Referral team at 311.
The Impact Reduction Program is a complaint driven system; the team learns about campsites and trash via public input. The City does not have the resources to be everywhere at once, which is why the program focuses on locations that pose the greatest health and safety risks. Every report that is received is reviewed by a staff member.
How to retrieve property
Property collected from campsites will be stored by a City contractor for at least 30 days. Property left for longer than 30 days will be destroyed or donated.
To arrange pickup, please call 503-387-1336 with the date, location and a description of items collected Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.