'Doing it ourselves'; Lents residents confront, argue with Portland homeless

Lents residents confront homeless campers

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Members of one embattled Portland neighborhood say they're so fed up with the city's handling of the homelessness issue that they are confronting campers themselves.

Neighbors held a protest in the Lents neighborhood Saturday morning.

The neighborhood is home to the center of Portland’s homeless crisis, the Springwater Corridor, which was the focus of a city-organized sweep on Sept. 1.

Residents started arguing with homeless campers while dozens watched.

George Dennis Smith, an admitted addict with a lengthy rap sheet, has been homeless for two years and camping in the neighborhood.

Neighbors allege that with Smith, come other campers, drugs and crime.

Smith understands the frustration.

“The trash and all that, that's not cool. The type of trash that some of it is, is not cool. I agree with that. And I apologize for my end of it, like I said,” said Smith.

Still, neighbors want this gone.

“We hear people fighting and drug deals at all hours. It keeps us up at night,” said Jennifer Richey.

So they stood and waited for close to an hour. In the end, Smith stayed and neighbors went home. But they say this is proof, and they're done waiting for the city to clean up every camp.

“We are doing it ourselves. We're independent. We're community organizers. We're not getting any grants or any funds from any agencies. We're old school street soldiers, I guess,” said Thomas Legg with the group Neighbors for Justice.

Neighbors say they've complained about that particular camp, and others nearby, for months.

KGW reached out to the Mayor's office and Portland police about the camp. We have not yet received a response.



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