Contrast of lifestyles for Portland's homeless

Where do homeless swept from Springwater go?

PORTLAND, Ore. -- On Thursday night in downtown Portland’s South Park Blocks, dozens of people kicked back. Most of them didn’t  have homes but some had guitars. Others smoked marijuana pipes.

Louis Peters told us he’d just arrived from Denver, Colorado.

“I came to Portland because there's so many musicians out here and I'm trying to get vocal lessons to go with guitar,” said Peters between riffs. “I figure someone out here will donate time to teach a kid how to do it.”

Another man told us he’d just arrived to Portland from California looking for “something new.”

While they enjoyed their new city out in the open, a group of homeless campers near Johnson Creek and Southeast Foster Road did all they could do to hide.

Most of them, like Jackie Hooper, had just been asked to leave the Springwater Trail after camping there for months.

“The people that are here, we're not going to have parties, we're not going to throw our stuff around,” said Hooper. “We just want a place to lay our head.”

They found that in a remote greenspace in the Johnston Creek Reservoir, an area where camping is not permitted.

Neighbors who live nearby said they'd watched dozens of campers relocate to that spot over the last week. Homeless advocate Jan Roberson is worried about them.

“The more neighbors around will see them relocating here, they’ll say ‘no, no, no,’ and call the police and authorities,” said Roberson. “Where are they going to go? I don't know. I absolutely don't know.”

Back at the park blocks, the benches and sidewalks gain new campers each day.

No one there seemed too worried about being asked to leave.

For Peters at least, there's music to learn and a new city to explore.

“One step at a time,” he said. “Portland’s cool.”

KGW


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