Residents across the metro area say downtown Portland has become dirty, unsafe, and uninviting and many anticipate visiting the city’s core less often after the pandemic than they did before.

Now, its residents are crying out for help as homelessness spreads across parts of the city — including their front yards.

Tents, broken-down cars, garbage heaps, and RVs line the streets of Southeast 80th and Powell. It’s a residential area that has become a nightmare for families who live there.

For years, residents watched the city’s homelessness crisis unfold across parts of southeast Portland. Now it’s right on her doorstep.

Here’s what Christina Hartnett, a resident, told KGW8:

“I want to cry. I just want my house back. My lawn is now becoming a public bathroom.”

“I live in a nightmare neighborhood,” said Hartnett, who has lived in the neighborhood for about five years.

“It’s really scary,” added her neighbor David Berkson.

Approximately 1,900 homeless encampments are in the Southeast Portland neighborhood, with 272 sites posing greater health and safety risks, Central City Concern Clean Start Crews told KGW8.

“I have to report from like four different bureaus,” she said. “And I have to report that report to report, and then I have to report that report to a second report — it’s the only way to get any kind of traction.” 

“I feel like nobody hears us,” she added. “Nobody cares about us.”

Many residents in the area have expressed their concerns over their own safety. They believed crimes may irrupt anytime soon. 

Tess, who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years, told KGW8 she now has installed security cameras around her home and boarded up her front door windows after some homeless individuals smashed them.

“Scared because I don’t know what they’re going to do next,” she said.

Cliff Perce, an employee at Bucket Brigade Sports Bar & Restaurant, said when customers arrive, they are met with people overdosing on the sidewalks in front of the restaurant.

However, those experiencing homeless say they want to coexist with the neighborhood but often get mistreated by residents living in a house.

“It’s just a matter of some homeless people are resentful towards the neighborhood because of the way they treat them,” Jennifer Czupryk, a homeless woman who lives in a broken down van that is parked on a boulevard in Southeast Portland, told KGW8.

Other homeless residents have said they understand the neighborhood’s frustration as the violence has increased among some homeless communities.

“It’s just gotten more bold — more rash,” Brendan Harvey, a homeless resident, told KGW8. “People aren’t as afraid to do things that are, you know, have to do with criminality.”

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The city’s housing director announced she’s officially resigning on Aug. 1 after five years of leading the city’s response to the affordable housing crisis, adding more frustrations from the residents in the area. 

Shannon Callahan, director of Portland Housing Bureau, said in a statement:

“I can truly say that the work we do at Portland Housing Bureau, alongside our community partners and jurisdictional partners, changes lives for the better. It has been a privilege to work with the dedicated, passionate, and exceptional team of public servants at the bureau.”

Downtown simply doesn’t feel safe right now, said Portland resident and poll respondent Myrna Brown. People are desperate, she said, and the city let things get out of hand over the last year. Trash, graffiti, and downtown’s violent reputation are keeping her family away.

Most of all, Brown said Portland has failed its homeless residents.

Sources: DailyWire, KGW8, OBP

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