Street Roots’ Israel Bayer on moving Springwater camps: ‘Do it surgically’

israel bayer
Nonprofit newspaper director Israel Bayer.
(Photo: Street Roots)

As the day approaches for a so-called “sweep” of everyone camping along the Springwater Corridor, one of Portland’s leading housing advocates is offering a counterproposal.

Instead of pushing everyone in these informal camps “back into the neighborhoods and downtown,” Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer wrote in a column Thursday, the city should (a) increase “organized camping” and (b) “surgically” target only people who are causing problems, not everyone else around them.

“If there are bad actors, get them out of there,” Bayer wrote. “If people are having an environmental impact, give them an ultimatum. Clean your camps up, or be swept.”

“Outside of that, dispersing hundreds of people into the city is absolutely ridiculous and inhumane and won’t actually solve anyone’s problem,” Bayer goes on. “It certainly won’t help people on the road to recovery or being able to access housing.”


A couple other passages from the column:

Is the Springwater Corridor really unsafe for both the community and people experiencing homelessness?

I would never attempt to say that anyone feeling unsafe isn’t true. No question, it’s a delicate situation. Saying that, it’s not like people experiencing homelessness were safe with or without the Springwater Corridor.

People experiencing homelessness certainly won’t be safe after the corridor is swept. It’s not a kind world out there. …

So, what do we do today? Do we need more shelters?

No, we do not. We need to maintain the shelters we have, but adding more shelters doesn’t get us anywhere.

For one, shelters are expensive. Number two. I would bet the farm that the vast majority of people on the Springwater Corridor wouldn’t access a shelter.

So, what do we need?

Housing. It’s something we can all agree on.

Bayer closes with a call for people to vote yes on November’s affordable housing property tax issue that would “build or acquire” about 1,300 rent-subsidized apartments for low-income people in the city.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

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