Portland families forced to sell their homes as concerns mount over homeless camps

'The community is at its wit's end,' one resident says

Residents in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood are resorting to selling their homes and moving due to homeless encampments right outside their front doors.

"It’s a little scary because I know there is mental illness and that concerns me," North Portland resident Maria Inocencio told KGW8.

Residents of North Portland said at least three families on one street have left in recent days due to the homeless camps, and KGW8 reported seeing for-sale signs up and down streets.

"I would say the migration to the suburbs, I’ve seen quite a bit in the last two years," real estate broker Lauren Iaquinta said. "Most people don’t want to have to worry about if they can leave their car parked in their driveway overnight without maybe having it broken into. It’s a pretty testy subject."

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A large homeless camp at Laurelhurst Park in one of Portland's most affluent neighborhoods.

A large homeless camp at Laurelhurst Park in one of Portland's most affluent neighborhoods. (iStock)

Iaquinta said she now studies neighborhoods to see if there are homeless camps in a given area while working with potential buyers.

"It’s neighborhood by neighborhood. You can be driving through North Portland, and you’re in this lovely area where there’s no issues, and then you can make a turn around the corner and have homeless camps there. It’s kind of sad. I’ve been doing this for 10 years here in Portland, and it’s changed quite a bit," she said.

Homeless encampments along parts of the Peninsula Crossing Trail, a once-popular bike path, have been there for years but have grown in recent days, prompting residents in North Portland to call on the city for help.

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"The community is at its wit's end," Tom Karwaki, who chairs the neighborhood association, told KGW8. He said he hopes a city initiative called Safe Rest Village, which would operate as an organized camp for the homeless and run by nonprofits, will help clean up the area.

"The city can do better, the county can do better, we as a community and as a state can do better," Karwaki added. "No one feels safe. Generally, from the housed community and the unhoused community, many don’t feel safe."

Others reported that just by walking out of their house, they are met by people in "really dire straits."

"Every day, if you go from one end of the street to the other, you’re confronting some very difficult situations, people in really dire straits," resident Mark Smith said. He shares a backyard with one of the encampments.

Smoke from wildfires fills the air around a homeless camp near the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 16, 2020.

Smoke from wildfires fills the air around a homeless camp near the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 16, 2020. (Rebecca Smeyne/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A 30-year resident of North Portland, Greg Dilkes, said, "It’s the first time in a long time" that he has seriously considered moving.

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"It makes you not feel that great about living here," Dilkes said. "It makes living in the neighborhood harder, not as congenial as it could be."

A homeless person sleeps in the sun during a heatwave in Portland, Oregon, on June 28, 2021.

A homeless person sleeps in the sun during a heatwave in Portland, Oregon, on June 28, 2021. (Maranie Staab/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

People living in the homeless camps, however, say residents should have nothing to fear.

"We are the most harmless people you’ll ever meet," TT Sanchez, who lives in one of the camps along the Peninsula Crossing Trail, told KGW8. "They shouldn’t be scared of us for what? Because we live outside? That’s the only reason you should be scared of us because we live outside, so if we lived in four walls and a house and stuff would you still be scared of us?"

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Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the homeless camps and updates on the Safe Rest Village initiative.