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Camp Wheeler to Debut This Summer as Forced
Relocation Center for Houseless Community

A tent encampment envisioned by Mayor Wheeler and Portland's City Commissioners is slated to open this summer. Although there was little, if any, input from houseless people or the agencies who work with them, there will be a camp for up to 150 people near SE Powell. Urban Alchemy, a California nonprofit, was selected to manage this site. Urban Alchemy claims it will cost $5 million each year to operate a 150 person site, plus $400,000 as startup costs. These dollars would be better spent building permanent housing.

[Oregonlive article, Feb 21]The initial proposal was for the sites to contain tents. However, the tents did not meet habitability requirements specified by the Oregon Legislature's March 2023 $200 million homelessness and housing spending package. The City now says the sites will contain pods with hard walls which meet the requirements. The plan is for three sites to be implemented this year and three more by 2024. There are still those who are houseless and their advocates who maintain that such gulags will harm and traumatize many of the houseless population (Oregonlive, March 22).

On April 19, despite nearly all testimony urging against it, Council voted unanimously to award Urban Alchemy a five-year, $50 million contract to run the new camps.

In an example of perfect timing, Commissioner Rene Gonzalez directed the workers of Portland Street Response to stop providing tents and tarps to houseless people. This edict was quickly followed by an historic and severe snow storm in the Portland area. In another specious proposal, Mayor Wheeler is suggesting a program to use people who were previously houseless to do outreach to those still houseless to convince them to enter a shelter, then decide who should be penalized for refusing to do so (Oregon Public Broadcasting, March 22). While this plan would not involve police, it would seem to fracture any sense of community between those who are housed and those who were previously but are no longer. There will also be outreach by various agencies regarding services, with incentives such as bus passes and the clearing of warrants, but also penalties such as criminal citations issued by the outreach workers which could ultimately result in monetary fines or jail time. In other words, criminalizing poverty.

The Oregonian reports that less than 1% of houseless people swept in recent efforts obtained permanent housing (February 21). Governor Kotek and Mayor Wheeler have disagreed regarding the removal of camps on state land near freeway entrances. The Governor indicates the state money used by the City is "just moving people around" and there needs to be some accountability regarding how the State money is being spent (Oregonian, March 26).

In February, the annual report by Clean and Safe (C&S), a special "Enhanced Service District"(ESD) funded by fees from downtown businesses and residents, was presented to City Council. Portland Copwatch gave testimony wondering why the report didn't address the plan to phase out C&S' funding of four police officers who respond primarily to their private security guards, expected to happen by 2025 (PPR #86).The Mayor deferred any discussion of that issue and others from an audit of ESDs to an unnamed later date. C&S reported that they responded to 5335 calls about "unwanted persons." Most likely, the majority of those "unwanted persons" were unhoused individuals that the business community did not want to see in their presence. The annual report also indicated that there were 17,792 "Business outreach calls." There was no information as to exactly what that even meant.

  [People's Police Report]

May, 2023
Also in PPR #89

2022's Record 42 Deadly Force Incidents in Oregon
MultCo Deputies Shoot Again, 8 PPB Cases Reviewed
Judge Keeps Pushing City on DOJ Agreement
City Settles with 4 More Protestors for Over $200K
 • PPB Evicts Family from Hotel, City Pays $15,000
Community Review Board Assigned to Mayor's Office
PAC Gets More Time to Design Oversight System
Relocation Center for Houseless Community to Open
Terror Task Force Report: A Public Nothing Burger
Training Council Continues Debating Demographics
Quick Flashes PPR #89:
 • Drones Buzz Their Way into Portland
 • Nike Store Doesn't Get Cops for Security
 • Multnomah Deputy Charged with Strangulation

Updates PPR #89:
 • City, Police Assoc. Debate Pre-Review of Bodycam Footage
 • PPB Quietly Releases Body Camera Policy with Limited Input
 • Overwhelming Opposition to Gunshot Detection Technology
 • Hunzeker Reinstated, Then Resigns Over 2nd Job
 • Sergeant Who Oversaw Biased Training Slide Suspended
 • Portland Police Step Up Efforts to Put Cops Back in Schools

Rapping Back #89

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #89 Table of Contents
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