The city of Portland will begin sweeping homeless camps larger than eight tents this month.

Sweeps were halted in March to follow guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic. But city officials now contend the sweeps are necessary for public health.

"Since March 12, the number of large-congregate campsites—defined as campsites with more than 10 structures present—has grown from three to 40," says a June 26 memo from Lucas Hillier, manager of the city's Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program. "These areas have created significant public health and public safety challenges, including an inability for the unsheltered individuals and other people using these public spaces to comply with public health physical distancing guidelines."

As WW previously reported, camps in Old Town and North Portland have expanded amid the crisis ("Camp Corona," June 10, 2020).

City officials say they will offer shelter to campers caught up in the sweeps.