The Oregonian recently published a map of city-wide complaints logged about homelessness, specifically outdoor camping.
No doubt, these complaints span the entire city and seem to have taken on crisis proportions, especially in light of today’s sweep of the Springwater Corridor. It’s a sensitive topic for those impacted by the issue, and it seemingly touches everyone these days—whether you are houseless and looking for a safe place to sleep, own a home and perceive outdoor camping to negatively impact your quality of life, or work for the city or social service agency and can’t wrap your head around a solution. And in between, there are many, many other views.
We won’t take a stance, other than to state the obvious: homelessness is a product of many things, but economics, housing and city policy have converged to make it a particularly messy situation that is not going away any time soon. So the question, then, is where is everyone going to go who currently lives along the Springwater Corridor?
Why do we ask this?
The Springwater Corridor is in our backyard. It crosses Foster and intersects a few of the neighborhoods that surround us. We are not so far away that we are immune to the impact the Springwater issue presents. And as the map the Oregonian published notes, our neighborhood has a high rate of reporting outdoor camping. Plus, this is a humanitarian issue that impacts everyone.
No doubt, as the camps along the Springwater are closed and people forced to move along, hundreds will be looking for new digs. And just as we’ve seen in our own neighborhood, busting up camps doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. The former Busy Bee property at SE 51st and Foster is a good example, where weeks of neighbors’ complaints finally led to the property owner fencing the vacant lot. While the encampment is no longer, peoples’ belongings were simply moved to the sidewalk, where they are still lining the adjacent street. This is only a microcosm of the Springwater issue, where campers will simply disperse to nearby areas, many of which will be in residential and commercial neighborhoods.
So as the sweeps move forward today, its impact will reach beyond the Springwater and touch the city as a whole. Meanwhile, the houseless will continue to search for a place to lay their tents and belongings. But where?