Oregon landlord says homeless camps scaring away tenants

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PORTLAND, Ore. — A landlord said homeless camps are scaring off his tenants.

Chuck Lawrence said two of his eight units at Bel-Air Court will soon be vacated after longtime tenants announced area homeless are making them feel too unsafe to remain in their apartments.

Lawrence said he doesn’t blame them, rattling off a list of recent crimes: Stealing bikes and water, and frequent cases of trespassing.

“The homeless have been looking in the windows,” Lawrence said. “Several [of the tenants] are single women.”

Lawrence said he recently put padlocks on outdoor water faucets and installed several motion-detector lights. There’s a 4-foot chain-linked fence around the side and back of the property, but he’s hoping the city will allow him to make it taller.

“I’ve tried to take care of the place,” Lawrence said. “I’ve tried to take care of all of them, and it’s hard for somebody whose trying to make a living off their small rentals.”

Lawrence has owned the complex in southeast Portland for 30 years. He said homeless in the area have been an issue for about two years and the biggest problems have come in the last few months.

Tenants must cross the Springwater Corridor path to get to their homes, and some of the tents are just feet from the apartments.

“It’s scary,” said tenant Maddie Ingraham, pointing to a homeless camp about 30 feet from her bedroom window. “They’re everywhere, and they just kind of stare you down when you’re driving through your driveway. You just feel uncomfortable going to your own house.

“These people yell and scream all the time, like at 3 in the morning. It’s just really inconsiderate. When they do move on they leave all their trash everywhere.”

Ingraham and Lawrence said they don’t believe Portland Mayor Charlie Hale’s recently announced plan to remove the camps along the corridor will work.

Lawrence said he’s also frustrated with the application process to make the fence on his property taller: City code says he must prove that changes to the fence will not distract from the livability or appearance of the area. Given the current view of tents and trash, Lawrence said he finds the requirements ironic.

“It’s [expensive] just for the review, plus the cost of the permit,” Lawrence said. “I have to go through this lengthy hearing process.”

KPTV also spoke with a nearby homeless resident who said he believes his camp will be excluded from the upcoming sweep of the area. He said he was told his camp was small enough that it probably would be overlooked. The man, who did not want to be identified, said he has nowhere else to go.

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