The Portland City Council (3 members) in December voted to allow RVs or trailers for overnight camping. But there are rules: The organization must display signs saying it gave permission to the campers to sleep overnight. The group must also provide to toilets and garbage pickup and not allow hookups to electricity, water and sewer services. Hosts must also work with neighbors, who can complain to the Portland Housing Bureau if problems arise. Moreland Presbyterian informed neighbors in a letter dated May 2 that the church intended to allow the homeless to sleep in a single vehicle in the parking lot from 10 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. (more info)
Neighbors weigh in on the homeless car camping next to their homes. Neighbors met at the SMILE station in Sellwood on June 6th to discuss this matter. Neighbors were insensed that the church did not reach out and actively work with them in the decision process. Neighbors living next door to the church were a very emotional and distressed that the church thinks this is a viable way to help the homeless.
The truth of the matter is that there are about 1500 homeless living on the streets in and around Sellwood-Moreland with spill over to East Moreland. In the program used in Eugene none of the sites were in residential neighborhoods and about 600 disturbance calls were issued each year, with about 150 police calls for support which says 25% of the called required police action.
Neighbors want to understand the liability of the church’s action and non-action when things go wrong which will happen about 25% of the time per the statistics provided by St.Vincent de Paul, who monitered the program in Eugene. Neighbors see their community adversely affected by having overnight car camping in the church parking lot adjacent to residential homes, with respect to quiet enjoyment of their homes, crime rate increase and property values. With nearly 1500 homeless in and around Sellwood-Moreland, the church’s idea to help, is like putting on a bandage on when you need stitches.
The SMILE general meeting had an hour of discussion with one neighbor after another voicing opposition. A motion was made supported and passed that the SMILE board will send letters on behalf of the neighborhood requesting this program not be implemented, to the church Pastor and city council. The letter will also request that a more fitting solution to helping the scores of homeless be considered.
Please post your comments and ideas on this subject.