Any given night, some 2,000 people sleep unsheltered in Portland – posing health and safety risks for those experiencing homelessness and the surrounding community.
As a result of the current pandemic and with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Multnomah County Health Department, the City did not post campsites for removal from the end of March through the latter part of July. The Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program (HUCIRP) has been working with City Council, Multnomah County Commissioners, and the County Health Department on updating guidance regarding campsite removals. You can read a memo about this online.
The conversations with Multnomah County Health and our elected officials led to an updated process regarding campsite removals. HUCIRP is concluding Week 3 of our coordinated outreach campaign in which we have printed several thousand flyers to distribute to individuals living unsheltered and outside. This effort is to help explain to folks living outside that changes are coming. It has been our intent to give individuals experiencing homelessness an opportunity to comply with our updated protocols before we remove personal property at any given location.
After the outreach campaign, HUCIRP will review and reassess sites across the City and follow up on locations that are determined to meet thresholds for posting and removal. We will then coordinate with outreach teams to focus on those areas to further assist folks living in those locations and provide them with an opportunity to comply. If the area still meets our posting thresholds following targeted outreach, we will post a 24-hour notice to provide final warning. This will be followed by a subsequent 48-hour posting notice for campsite removal if the site continues to meet posting thresholds.
HUCIRP continues to monitor COVID-19 cases and will continue to work with Multnomah County Health. If Multnomah County experiences a surge in cases this process will need to be reevaluated and it is possible that campsite removals will halt altogether to allow for individuals to shelter in place.
Even if we are not removing campsites, we are still responding to reports. We can have a crew onsite to assess the situation within a couple of days of receiving a report. They will provide garbage bags and offer resources in addition to garbage removal. Please continue to report locations to us using just one of the following:
- Campsite Report Form: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/campsites.
- PDX Reporter: https://pdxreporter.org.
- Calling Information & Referral: 503-823-4000.
For those interested in learning more about how we respond to reports, check out this video.
Jonathan Lewis is the Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program Coordinator. He holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration from Portland State University. He served in the Peace Corps from 2009-2011 in Kazakhstan. He lives in Portland with his wife and their 2 year-old son.