homelessness

Views from campers about the future of the tent city on Springwater path

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 13th, 2016 at 9:56 am

trail motion

The Springwater Corridor near SE 82nd.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

It’s been a week since someone living on the Springwater Corridor survived a gunshot and months since it became maybe the largest single tent camp — tent suburb? — in Oregon.

Consciously tolerated by the city government under an uneasy compromise brokered by Mayor Charlie Hales and his (now former) chief of staff Josh Alpert, the encampment has gotten more and more complicated as it’s become a more common place for people without a roof to look for refuge. It’s also gotten harder for people biking on the Springwater to ignore. With Alpert gone from the city as of July 1, the camp’s future is newly uncertain.

Thacher Schmid (who I should disclose is also a personal friend of mine) is a freelance reporter based in Portland, writing in this case for his own website. He rode his bike to the camp last week and spent a few hours talking to people there about their lives and the city’s efforts to reduce, manage and regulate homelessness.

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Alleged shooting by fellow camper sends Springwater resident to hospital

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 5th, 2016 at 8:46 am

trail motion

The Springwater Corridor in January.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A man living on the Springwater Corridor survived an early-morning “non-life-threatening gunshot wound” Tuesday near the path just east of SE 82nd Avenue, police said.

A news release from the Portland Police Bureau said the suspect also lives along the path, parts of which have become an informal home for people living in tents as local home prices have continued to climb.

The release said police “located and detained a person of interest in the shooting” but did not describe the detainee as the “suspect.”

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Two videos that will help you understand homelessness in Portland

Avatar by on May 27th, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Still from Hazelnut Grove, a short film by Kevin Neidorf.

Still from Hazelnut Grove, a short film by Kevin Neidorf.

I want to share two videos that I think will help broaden your understanding of the homelessness crisis and give you some new perspective on it. And here’s why I’m doing it:

Over the past few months I’ve gotten many emails from people who bike by homeless camps and then write in to say: “The homeless situation is out of hand and something needs to be done about it.” In part because of emails like that we’ve covered the topic several times recently.

This might make you wonder: Why are bicycle riders talking about the local homelessness crisis? Why am I reading about this on a bike blog?

Part of the answer is that when you experience a city by bike, you are physically and mentally much more a part of your surroundings than people who drive or use transit. Bicycle riders experience the street environment in a very direct way, so it’s no surprise that all this camping — much of it happening directly adjacent to multi-use paths — is on many people’s minds at the end of their commute.
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Legislators’ bicycle town hall on Springwater path will focus on camping issues, safety concerns

Avatar by on May 5th, 2016 at 10:22 am

Springwater path near Cartlandia 82nd and Harney-1.jpg

The Springwater Corridor near 82nd.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Several Oregon state legislators will host what they’re calling an “interactive bicycle town hall” on May 14th to learn more about conditions on the Springwater Corridor path.

Interactions between path users and people who live in camps adjacent to the path reached a boiling point back in January. Since then there has been a broad community effort to address the issue. In April, local author and nonprofit director Joe Kurmaskie said he would cancel his youth summer bike camps due to concerns over the unruly and dangerous behaviors of some of the Springwater campers.

The issue was back in the headlines again this week when local news stations reported on a major operation by the Portland Police to move people out of the camps and pick up trash and personal belongings.
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Street Roots survey turns up differing priorities in mayor’s race

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 18th, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Portland Mayor Debate-20.jpg

Mayoral candidates Ted Wheeler, left, and Bim Ditson.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Street Roots, Portland’s first-rate paper about homelessness and housing issues, sometimes asks questions about the closely related subject of transportation.

A questionnaire distributed to the mayoral candidates and published last week includes a quick window into the ways different candidates think about mobility issues.

The question:

Please place the following items in order of priority as mayor.

• Increase parking
• Bike infrastructure
• Low­ or no-fare public transit

Here’s what they said:[Read more…]

Nonprofit puts youth bike camps on hold due to Springwater safety concerns – UPDATED

Avatar by on April 18th, 2016 at 11:47 am

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Kurmaskie (in rear with cowboy hat) and
campers last summer).
(Photo courtesy Joe Kurmaskie)

Portland author Joe Kurmaskie says he feels conditions on the Springwater Corridor path have gotten so bad that he might be forced to cancel his popular teen summer bike camp program.

Kurmaskie, who turned 50 this year, is known for his “Metal Cowboy” books that describe his many adventures while bike touring through the United States and around the world (including two cross-country journeys with his wife and five children). He moved to north Portland in 1998 and now lives in Sellwood. For the past four years he’s run the “Camp Creative: No Child Left Inside” summer camp for 9-13 year olds in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation. The camp is completely bike-based and the main route used to access activities is the Springwater Corridor. This year Kurmaskie says he’s decided to put the camp on hold because of an increase in unruly and unsafe behavior from people he’s encountered along the path.
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Neighborhood meeting tonight will address homeless camp on Springwater path near 82nd

Avatar by on February 4th, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Springwater path near Cartlandia 82nd and Harney-1.jpg

Springwater path west of 82nd.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We apologize for the short notice; but we’ve just heard that the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association is hosting a meeting tonight (7:00 pm at Brentwood Darlington Community Center, 7211 SE 62nd Ave) to talk about issues related to the large number of people living in tents adjacent to the Springwater Corridor path near SE 82nd Ave.

As we reported last month, the situation reached a boiling point when business owners, residents, and users of the path shared a variety of concerns about the impact of the people living on the path. One of the activists mentioned in our story on January 14th, Terry Dublinksi-Milton, connected with Vahid Brown, a well-known homeless advocate who has helped establish the Hazelnut Grove camp in north Portland.
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Condo association releases ‘Call for Community Safety Plan and Dialogue’

Avatar by on February 1st, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Compassion for all members of our community and a low tolerance for open criminal activity are not contradictory.
— McCormick Pier Condominium Association

The condominium association that closed a public path along the Willamette river last week has issued a statement calling on “transportation advocates” and other interested parties to come together in order to address the “crisis” of citywide homelessness.

The McCormick Pier Condominium Association re-opened public access to the path on Friday after the City of Portland made their presence felt at a large homeless camp adjacent to their property.

Here’s the statement they just released:
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City responds to Steel Bridge homeless camp, Condo owners re-open Greenway path

Avatar by on February 1st, 2016 at 11:43 am

pathopen

Path gate open for business.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last Tuesday we reported that the board of directors of the McCormick Pier Condominiums had taken it upon themselves to close access to the Willamette Greenway Trail path between the Broadway and Steel Bridges. The reason? They said a nearby homeless camp was causing safety issues.

While the larger issue of homelessness looms over this issue and is of much greater concern to us than bikeway access, we’re covering it because the Greenway Trail is a public path and the city has an easement over the condo property during daylight hours. The homeless camp in this area has also encroached on the public path people use to connect between northwest Portland, Waterfront Park and the Steel Bridge/Eastbank Esplanade paths.

In updates to our story last week we shared that the McCormick Pier Condo board of directors was using the path’s closure to force action from Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. He didn’t like that. “I want you to know that I’m not going to permit people to take public right-of-way hostage for political purposes,” he told me in a phone call after our story went up Tuesday. Hales’ office was already well-aware of the growing size and issues at the camp under the Steel Bridge and was already planning actions to address it before the gate was closed. For whatever reason, the day after our story was published, the city began a clean-up effort at the site.
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Springwater path update: Neighborhood meetings, a community walk, and the City’s stance

Avatar by on January 22nd, 2016 at 11:00 am

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(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’re continuing to track the concerns about people who live outside along the Springwater path, the conditions of the path, and the safety of people who ride bikes on it.

Our two recent stories on the subject — one about concerns from path users and the current state of law enforcement response to them, and the other that shared the perspectives of the homeless residents themselves — has sparked a big discussion.

This issue obviously goes way beyond bicycling. We’re covering it because it impacts conditions on properties managed by the Portland Parks & Recreation and Bureau of Transportation that have transportation corridors running through them (like the Springwater, Waterfront Park, and the Greeley path).

Here are a few updates:
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