KGW launches investigative project that explores Portland’s homeless

KGW launches investigative project that explores Portland’s homeless

Portland is made up of many neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality. Yet homeless tent camps plague them all.

Tents crowd Inner Southeast, among renovated warehouses. North and Northeast Portland’s parks are home to several camps. The Springwater Corridor in outer East Portland sees sporadic influxes of camping communities. Campers set up shop in Southwest Portland, along the waterfront and downtown. Campers pitch tents throughout industrial Northwest and under bridges in the tony Pearl District. Camps line the banks of the highways that run through the city from east to west and north to south.

The camps aren’t just comprised of tents. Many are also filled with garbage, drug paraphernalia and human waste.

Residents across Portland say they are increasingly frustrated and afraid, as tent camps encroach closer toward their homes. The homeless campers are constantly on the move, pushed around by city-funded sweeps.

The scope of homelessness in Portland hasn’t changed much over the past few years; the number of homeless people in Multnomah County has hovered around 4,000 since 2009. But homeless camping has become far more visible, impacting how other city residents feel. One-third of Portlanders said they are considering moving out of the city due to homelessness.

KGW’s investigative team spent three months conducting an in-depth analysis of homeless tent camping in Portland. Reporters surveyed 100 people living in tents to find out who is camping on Portland’s streets and why. A crew spent a day with a homeless woman, learning first-hand the difficulties she faces completing basic tasks. And city leaders, police officers and homeless advocates explained the specific policies and circumstances that spawned the pervasive, public problem Portland faces today.

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