How well is Portland’s ban on homeless camping near schools being implemented?

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler banned camping near schools and school bus routes, a local parent is telling KOIN 6 News that their routes to school are being missed.

The mayor’s office has prioritized cleaning up camps, based on the Safe Routes to School program, and says people can report the areas parents feel are unsafe to 311 or the PDX reporter app.

“We’re a city that many families walk and bike to school. It’s really neat so I’m appreciative that the city is (prioritizing) this before the start of school,” said Julia Brim-Edwards, a PPS school board member.

However, local parent Laura Bartloff says she has tried calling and hasn’t had success.

Bartroff says she’s lived off of Powell Blvd. for 20 years, and only in the last 18 months did a bus, several RVs and several broken down cars move into her neighborhood.

Bartroff was encouraged by the mayor’s emergency declaration, but that declaration is based on certain roads identified by the safe routes program, and says the way she takes her kids to school is not on it.

“For our neighborhood, our safe route includes coming up different arterials and walking along Powell to get to the crosswalk,” Bartroff said. “Cars are going 40-50 miles per hour sometimes even though the posted speed is 30.”

The sidewalks on that route are blocked by vehicles, and Bartroff doesn’t want her elementary school-aged kids walking in the street. After reporting the vehicles for months, she contacted PPS school board representative Julia Brim-Edwards, who confirmed they are on the list for removal.

“If it’s the list to get cleared, that’d be amazing. And as a follow up there are challenges with keeping the roads clear so what’s the process to continue to keep them clear,” Bartroff said.

The City of Portland is following the requirement to give 72 hours’ notice before a camp is cleaned up. The mayor’s office has said some camps have already been cleaned as part of the emergency declaration and more have been given notice.

As far as where those people in the camps go, the joint office of homeless services says they have 92 standing open shelter beds for the City of Portland to refer people to.

Bartroff hopes there can be a permanent place for the people living in the camp, whether that’s to park or to stay.

“I know the city has been trying to get those up and running for years now and folks deserve a place like that. I really want that for the people in our neighborhood here,” she said.

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