An eclectic neighborhood in the Portland, Oregon area is struggling to control the homeless population, as are most big cities in America.
The Montavilla neighborhood made Lonely Planet's list of the 10 best U.S. neighborhoods. last year but is struggling to keep its reputation together after a rise in crime and tents and on the streets.
A neighborhood patrol group has stepped up to try and combat the influx of vagrants, but often faces interference from civil rights activists.
The Montavilla Neighborhood Assn. passed a resolution in June of last year asking the city to “cease further sweeps of [homeless] camps,” which could be “unconstitutional and human rights violations.”
A conservative nonprofit, Montavilla Initiative, formed as an alternative to the neighborhood association and the battle began.
Montavilla Initiative began doing its own foot patrols, facing criticism from local officials and homeless advocates who accuse the group of harassing vulnerable homeless people. However, leaders of the Initiative say "homeless encampments foster crime and they are just trying to make the neighborhood safer."
Los Angeles Times spoke with some of the homeless in the area and did not have positive reviews of the Montavilla Initiative.
“You mean the ones that harass us?” said Amy Griffin, a homeless woman, when asked about foot patrols. She said people blow car horns “at all hours” and yell “Get out of here!” at her.
A man named Jerry said they were “rude and disrespectful” and left him “coiled up inside.” Carlos Guzman said they threatened and cursed at his friend.
President Daryl Turner called Portland a “cesspool” and criticized elected officials for their response to homelessness. Police statistics also show property crimes rose greatly in the last three years.
Read more here.
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