The bike path between Gateway Transit Center and Maywood Park was lined with shopping carts and bikes as campers prepare to relocate away from Gateway Green.
20 shopping carts scattered over the land. Tents tucked underneath trees, food wrappers and clothing items littered across the cigarette-covered ground. The air smelling of human feces and burnt plastic, the sound of the highway in the background. Notices from the City of Portland are taped to the trees, warning homeless people who live there to vacate the area.
Since the Springwater Trail cleanout of early September, the area called Gateway Green, located in between the Maywood bike trail and highway I-84, has seen a ballooning population of transients. The climax of the influx totaled about 55 campsites and around 200 people living in that section of city-owned land. Along with the cleanout of the Springwater Trail on Oct. 3, the cleanout of Gateway Green began to make room for a new mountain bike trail project
Due to the cleanout, “people will be dispersing,” Portland Parks and Recreation representative Ross Swanson said. Transients will then likely go along the bike trail.
Already, homeless people have moved farther into the neighborhood of Maywood Park and areas of the Parkrose School District. A group of people riding bikes towing carts and wagons full of belongings passed by the high school on Oct. 3., on their way further into town. Maywood locals have noticed homeless people now setting up camps nearby in places such as underneath the Sandy overpass. Many Maywood residents have expressed concern about this flow of homeless people into our neighborhood.
“There has definitely been an increase in homeless people in Maywood and the Parkrose communities,” said Erica Dunn, mother of Parkrose High School junior Shelbie Dunn.
Maywood Mayor Mark Hardie is worried about the migration.
“I have a feeling that we will see a fair amount of foot traffic,” Hardie said. He is also hopeful that Portland Parks will stick to their guns on the issue of cleanouts.
Possibly due to the increase of homeless people, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has seen more activity this recent September. Twenty-one calls came in, as opposed to fourteen in the previous month.
“It’s hard to say whether that’s random crime or it’s associated actually with the transient/homeless population,” Lieutenant Joel Wendland said.
But, as Dunn noted, the increase in homeless people in the community has had an impact on the atmosphere.
“It has definitely had me more on edge," Dunn said. "[It] makes me think twice about early morning walks south of Maywood on the bike path.”
“There’s a lot more fear in the neighborhoods,” Officer Robert Brown of the Portland Police Bureau said.
Other neighbors have reportedly experienced negative interactions with the homeless. Garbage is more prevalent as well.
A homeless woman was found one morning to be taking a shower on a Maywood native’s lawn, using the garden hose, according to Hardie.
“Car break-ins seem to be happening more frequently lately,” Dunn said.
Donna Grobey, another Parkrose parent, said, “I’ve seen a lot of frustrated [and] angry comments that my neighbors have posted on social media.”
While the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Portland Parks and the Portland Police Bureau have all expressed plans to address the homeless issue, the overall impact of this occurrence is yet to be determined. “The city as a whole is trying to figure [this] out,” Brown said.