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Homeless camp in natural area is closed after less than a week by the city because of environmental and other concerns.

KOIN 6 NEWS - Homeless camper and supports after the Village of Hope' in Northeast Portland was closed down.Less than one week after it was first established, the Village of Hope is no more.

Friday morning Portland Park Rangers, alongside Portland Police officers, evicted the people living in the camp.

The property is a natural area owned by Portland Parks & Recreation. On Friday afternoon, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz released a joint statement which said in part, "Parks and natural areas are not appropriate places for building homes. Parks belong to everyone, and each has designated purposes established through community processes. We have learned from past experience that even well-intentioned, well-run camps draw other campers to the area which the organizers cannot control, causing environmental degradation that squanders previous investments in restoration work.

Organizers established the Village of Hope in late January next to the Columbia River Slough off Norteast Airport Way. They were quickly told by the city that the campers would not be allowed to stay there, as the camp set up permanent structures on protected public property.

Leading up to Friday, campers were given warnings and notices of exclusion. Organizer Steve Kimes says rangers arrived at 7 a.m. Friday and told campers they had ten minutes to vacate the property, or else they would be arrested.

"If they were going to stay to be arrested, I was going to stay to be arrested. If they were going to leave, I was going to leave with them. They chose to leave, so I left with them," Kimes said. "We're extraordinarily disappointed in the city."

Police set up caution tape to stop anyone from re-entering as rangers cleared the camp. A PPB spokesperson said the presence of the officers on scene was to minimize property damage and to maintain the safety of the park rangers, the campers and the protesters.

No one was arrested, but protesters remained dissatisfied.

"These are economic refugees," said Boots on the Ground Executive Director Ree Campbell. "We've always had our houseless that are not going indoors. We've always had them. This is above and beyond that. This is out of control."

Wheeler and Fritz said homeless services are available, however.

"The City of Portland in partnership with Multnomah County and A Home for Everyone supports a comprehensive strategy to address homelessness that includes prevention, shelter, housing placement, and services to help people get off the street and stay off the street. Last year nearly 4,900 people obtained housing, 6,139 people started receiving prevention services, and 8,532 people accessed emergency shelter," they said in their joint statement.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can read a previous story at https://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/385473-274908-city-threatens-to-evict-campers-from-natural-area.

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