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Homeless swept out of Laurelhurst Park

KOIN 6 NEWS - Homeless camps at Laurelhurst Park before the Tueday cleanup, Growing homeless camps in Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland were cleaned up Tuesday morning, just weeks before the city begins its announced sweep along the Springwater Corridor connecting to Gresham.

Recent homeless camps in the park at Southeast 39th and Southeast Oak were swept by police after residents there had been complaining about more than a dozen campers.

After the sweep, there were no more tents, just a few bikes, chairs and trash. It’s a drastic change from a few days ago.

Some campers say this isn’t a permanent solution for them because they don’t have anywhere else to go.

“This last minute stuff isn’t good enough for me, we need an extension here,” camper Mike Jenkins said. “If Springwater gets and extension, why can’t we get an extension here?”

Mayor Charlie Hales originally said the estimated 500 homeless campers would be removed from the corridor by Aug. 1. But he postponed that sweep until Sept. 1 after social service workers said there was not enough replacement shelter space.

“I’m just going to move my stuff from this locations to maybe 10 feet down the road and stay legal and do what I can to live another day,” another camper told KOIN.

Homeless advocates were present during Tuesday's sweep to offer support to the displaced campers.

“We have some connections with shelter beds, some people that we can get a hold of,” Lisa Lake said. “We’re also just offering, if they have a place to go, can we see them there safely? Can we make sure they have food and water afterward? Do we know where they’re going so we can keep connecting them with services?”

A notice about the cleanup was posted by the city on Friday. The city says it gives between 24 hours and seven days notification to campers before asking them to leave and sweeping the area.

Neighbors who’ve been worried about this camp growing daily said they’re relieved the sweep finally happened.

“The number of campers started from three to four tents and tarps to the whole street being lined in the past month,” resident Mark Wolfington said. “It’s good that the city is doing something finally.”

KOIN 6 News is a Portland Tribune news partner. Portland Tribune reporter Jim Redden contributed to this story.