PORTLAND, Ore. – A new ban on daytime homeless camping legally took effect Friday in Portland, but one wouldn't know it by walking around the City of Roses. Tents spilled over sidewalks and those who have made their homes on public property say the new policy isn't likely to create meaningful change.
"It's bulls---," Michael, who has been homeless off and on since the ‘90s, told Fox News bluntly. "I'm tired of moving. They're gonna have to make me move."
The city council passed the ordinance with a 3-1 vote last month, changing city code to only allow people to camp in nonrestricted areas overnight, so long as they dismantle their camps each morning. From 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., people are prohibited from blocking access to Portland businesses or sidewalks with tents. Camping is also banned in city parks or within 250 feet of a school, childcare center or city-operated homeless shelter.
The new rules took effect July 7, but neither the city nor police have begun enforcing them.
Mayor Ted Wheeler's office said the city is planning for a "summer of education" and will make a formal announcement when enforcement begins.
"Over the next few months, we will be focused on education and outreach – ensuring all outreach teams, City employees, [police] staff, and others have clear and thorough information on this new ordinance," Wheeler said in a statement.
One man who was recently in prison for stabbing another man said he hopes homeless folks refuse to let authorities enforce the ban.
"What I think would be cool is if we stood up and stood as one, make sure that they don't make us take down our tents or whatever," said the man, who did not wish to be identified. "If they want violence, then give 'em violence back."
Lori, who recently got off the streets and into a shelter, told Fox News she thinks the ban will make Portland "100 times worse" by forcing homeless people — especially those on mind-altering drugs such as fentanyl — to roam the city during the day rather than stay secluded in their tents. Victoria agreed.
"[Some homeless people] can't comprehend what's really going on out here," the Texas native said. "They're not gonna get up and move if they don't know how to get up and move."
People who violate the ordinance will receive two written warnings first. A third violation could result in a fine up to $100 or up to 30 days of jail time, although Wheeler's office said the district attorney's office will focus on "seeking alternative sentences."
Enforcement of the ordinance is meant to "connect people with appropriate resources, while also addressing behavior that is damaging to our community," according to the mayor's office.
"While I support our sidewalks getting cleared, my hope is with this ban comes more outreach to actually help these people," said Kevin Dahlgren, a Portland-area drug and alcohol counselor who has been an outspoken critic of the West Coast's approach to dealing with homelessness.
Dahlgren worries the ban will simply result in homeless people being swept from one street to another and back again, a concern that was echoed by Matt Bordonaro.
"Until we create the camps and safe spaces and really try to crunch down, they're not gonna take it serious. Nobody takes it serious," said Bordonaro, development director for Oregon Harbor of Hope. The nonprofit is the brainchild of legendary Portland developer Homer Williams, who has frequently clashed with city over how best to handle the homeless crisis.
To hear more from those on the streets of Portland, click here.