Protesters at 82nd Avenue and Foster in Portland.

Protesters at 82nd Avenue and Foster in Portland.

Amelia Templeton/OPB

A group of Portland residents gathered this weekend to protest the mayor’s policy allowing homeless people to camp overnight on some city properties. 

The Lents neighborhood has long been a hub for homeless camping. The Springwater corridor bike path cuts right through it.

But the protesters in downtown Lents say their experience this summer has been different. The camps have grown larger, several residents say their dogs have been stolen, and earlier this week, a homeless man living on the bike path shot another homeless man.

 Sarah Burgess has been a renter in the neighborhood for three years. She said she no longer feels comfortable allowing her daughter outside to play.

“When the mayor opted to allow camping all over the city it was really when I saw the increase in the crime,” Burgess said. “We had a homeless camp by our house for six months. We didn’t feel safe even going outside our door.”

The protest was organized, in part, by the group Lents Active Watch, a group of activists that do walking patrols, pick up trash and monitor homeless people in the neighborhood.

The mayor has said allowing camping is necessary because the city lacks shelter beds.

A pair of homeless women rested on some grass a few feet away from the protest.  One said she didn’t care if neighbors complained because she had nowhere else to go.