THE GREAT PORTLAND EXODUS: Families flee city as it descends into playground for addicts and criminals

THE GREAT PORTLAND EXODUS: Families flee city as it descends into playground for addicts and criminals
Many families are selling their homes due to an increase in violence and homeless camps in North Portland (YouTube/KGW8)

PORTLAND, OREGON: Drastic times call for drastic measures. In a similar situation, residents in Portland chose to set up camp outside their homes after selling them to escape the worsening homeless crisis. More and more encampments were seen popping up in the residential neighborhoods. In certain neighborhoods in North Portland, particularly along the Peninsula Crossing Trail, homeless encampments have grown and only seem to be increasing.

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What once used to be a popular bike route amongst the locals is now home to a long trail of homeless people where some are suffering from mental illness and some are using drugs. As per KGW8, a television station in Portland, many families are selling their homes due to an increase in violence and homeless camps in the area. Greg Dilkes, a resident of North Portland for almost 30 years told KGW8, "It makes you not feel that great about living here. It makes living in the neighborhood harder, and not as congenial as it could be. It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve actually seriously thought about moving." You can’t pull up on a street and decide, ‘I’m going to live here.' It’s just not fair to the community,” said Judy Kane, who lives on the corner of North Princeton and Stanford. An RV now sits outside her kitchen window. Another resident, Mark Smith, who was bothered by the growing homelessness said, "Mental health, drug addiction and just not having access to housing. 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." 

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Smith’s partner Maria Inocencio was concerned by the uncertainty of events that could occur due to people living with mental illnesses saying, "It’s a little scary because I know there is mental illness and that concerns me." Another resident, 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?"

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People are selling their houses in Portland due to the rise in homeless camps. (YouTube/KGW8)
People are selling their houses in Portland due to the rise in homeless camps (YouTube/KGW8)

What it's like to live in Portland

A realtor described what it's like to live in Portland and the fact that there has been a surge of residents moving to the suburbs over the past two years. While speaking to KGW8, Lauren Iaquinta said, "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." She explained that the topic is sensitive for the residents there as the situation only gets more unpredictable due to homeless people settling down wherever they want. The type and nature of these homeless people cannot be determined firsthand, causing fear amongst the residents. 

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Lauren continued, "It’s neighborhood by neighborhood. You can be driving through North Portland, and you’re in this lovely area where there’s no issues, and then you can make a turn around the corner and have homeless camps there." She explained that the shift in the living conditions is noticeable and is "kind of sad." She continued, "I’ve been doing this for 10 years here in Portland, and it’s changed quite a bit." What can help solve it? As per Tom Karwaki, who chairs the neighborhood association, the community is at its wit's end. According to him, a city initiative called Safe Rest Village, which would operate as an organized camp for the homeless and run by nonprofits shall help clean up the area and restore the long-lost peace.

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