Over the weekend, Portland police arrested a handful of people taking part in a round-the-clock homeless protest near city hall. Police threatened more with arrest, if the protesters don’t follow the city’s anti-camping and sidewalk ordinances.
At the same time, the homeless advocacy group Sisters of the Road, has withdrawn from a city committee geared toward balancing public safety and freedom of movement for homeless people.
Sisters’ advocates say that services have been too slow in coming – and that police have used city ordinances to crack down on the homeless.
Mayor Tom Potter says he won't sanction makeshift campgrounds in Portland.
Tom Potter: “They have a lot of problems in the homeless camps, around sanitation issues, around safety issues. The police tend to look the other way when they can, but when it becomes a problem, we have to deal with it, and we have to have a tool to do that with.”
Potter says the city has responded to short-term needs by funding an additional hundred or so shelter beds, but he says the long-term answer is to build more affordable housing.
Portland’s “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness” has been praised as a national model for putting thousands of homeless people into permanent housing. But city officials say well over a thousand people still don't have adequate shelter on any given night in Portland.