PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — Along Portland’s Northeast 33rd Drive near Sunderland Avenue, an abundance of garbage, debris is mixed in with the long string of cars and RVs parked along the roadside and spilling into an empty muddy tract of land.
“This is very depressing but it’s also different times,” said Suzanne Rollins, the only neighbor with a home in this stretch of the industrial area.
Recent city reports show the homeless camp was cleaned by crews just last week, but the sheer amount of waste and trash overwhelms the area.
So what do these camp cleanups exactly look like? It’s a complex issue with complex answers, and many players involved.
For starters, some of the land is owned by the Port of Portland, and therefore, not the city’s responsibility. Additionally, Port of Portland officials says they can’t do anything about cars, trucks and RVs along the side of the road –that’s on the city — and more specifically, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). And those in charge of city cleanups also say they can’t do anything about the parked cars – again, pointing to PBOT.
Instead, city officials say they can only cleanup obvious trash – like waste placed in garbage bags.
Other discarded items could be considered “personal property” and won’t pick it up.
“Picking up the metal trash, the car parts, the discarded things that don’t work – no that’s going to take a huge effort,” Rollins said.
The frustration is only mounting for Rollins, who also expresses a great amount of sympathy for the homeless who live around her.
Beyond her backyard is one of the area’s biggest homeless camps.
“There’s more and more people, the trash is just getting worse and worse and worse to the point where I have a real rat problem in my backyard,” Rollins said.
“If I had to blame, I would say it’s the Port of Portland because it’s their property and they simply refuse to deal with it,” Rollins added.
The Port of Portland confirmed to FOX 12 that it owns the land behind Rollins’ house, sending FOX 12 this statement: “We’re aware of the challenges at this site as well as similar issues across the region. We are committed to working with partners to find effective and compassionate solutions for the community.”
As for any specific long-term solutions, those who work and live around here said they hold little hope for any big changes.
“This is happening all over the city but this is worse than a lot of places because it’s this no man’s land of who it belongs to,” Rollins said.
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