North Tabor News

by Gabe Frayne

Sgt. Randy Teig of the Portland Police Bureau’s Neighborhood Response Team presented at the August meeting on the visible increase in homeless encampments and related activities in North Tabor and surrounding areas over the past year or so.

In a nutshell, the problem is complex. Teig spoke of a “tone of incivility,” which he described as disorder without serious crime. Yet the appearance of tents, discarded needles, human waste, abandoned vehicles and other detritus clearly creates an atmosphere of incivility for many residents. Teig spoke repeatedly of “separating the homeless from the criminals” out on the street, but this seems to be a gray area where property crimes are concerned. Teig estimates that “about 70 percent” of Portland’s homeless (at least those living on the street) are addicted to either heroin or meth, which obviously incurs property crimes such as car prowls and bike thefts.

Much has been made of the increase in Portland’s homeless population in recent months. In June the Oregonian reported that the homeless population now exceeds 4,000, a 10 percent increase in two years, while fewer people are actually sleeping on the street – 1,688 – a 12 percent drop from two years ago. Teig cautioned that no one factor—be it addiction, mental illness, or unaffordable housing—accounts for the increase.

Another factor mentioned by Teig was the chronic shortage of patrol officers on the Portland police force. Although the city government has reversed its policy regarding camping on public spaces, it may take several days for the police to clear an encampment, and the delay is even longer on ODOT spaces such as highway embankments, which are outside of PPB jurisdiction.

The PPB has now established a “one point of contact” system to report illegal encampments or prolonged camping in vehicles, using the webpage (www.portlandoregon.gov/campsites) or PDX Reporter App from an iPhone or Android smart phone. Those without access to the internet may call and report non-emergency concerns to 503-823-4000.

Everyone is welcome to attend North Tabor Neighborhood Association meetings, third Tuesday of every month, 6:30-8pm, at Community of Christ Church, 4837 NE Couch. The September 19 meeting will feature Glenn C. Devitt from Sunnyside’s Neighborhood Emergency Team speaking on emergency preparedness and how we can activate a Neighborhood Emergency Team in North Tabor.

Board elections are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 17. All positions are up for re-election by the membership. Anyone over the age of 18 who lives, or owns property or a business, in North Tabor is eligible to be a member of the neighborhood association and run for election to the board. Board membership minimally requires a one year commitment and attendance at monthly meetings.

The Providence Hospital annual neighborhood meeting will be on Monday, Oct. 11, 7-8 pm, at the Providence Portland Cancer Center. One of the agenda items will be how the hospital is planning for an emergency (including the Big One), and a Neighborhood Emergency Team representative is on the agenda too.