Portland Business Alliance Asks Governor Kate Brown to Spend More Money on Portland Homeless Camp Cleanups

Letter sent Wednesday asks that the governor make sure Oregon Department of Transportation spends more to cleanup camps by the highways.

It's not unusual for the Portland Business Alliance to complain that the city's  response to Portland's problems with homelessness is inadequate.

But this time, the group is complaining to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

PBA, which is effectively Portland chamber of commerce, sent a letter Oct. 11 agitating Brown about the Oregon Department of Transportation's failure to clean up homeless camps along highways in Portland.

"There simply are inadequate resources dedicated at the agency to address this significant issue," writes Jim Mark, chair of the PBA board.

"The amount of waste is particularly visible on Interstate 405 through downtown Portland and Interstate 84 just east of downtown, although the issue spans the entire region….We urge you to add further resources to the Portland area for the purpose of addressing this highly prevalent issue."

The governor's office did not respond to requests for comment.

At a press conference last Friday, Mayor Ted Wheeler said he planned to push the Oregon Legislature to give ODOT more money for camp cleanups.

But PBA is asking for a shift in spending, rather than more funding for the agency.

Related: Portland Business Alliance also helped fund a poll showing citizen anger around homelessness.

PBA has in the past pushed the city and county to create more shelter space, but after increases in shelter beds, PBA has shifted focus to emphasizing the problem of trash.

"These camps generate significant amounts of waste that is a danger to health and safety, requiring hazard material removal," Mark writes. "The dangers that can arise from these types of unsanitary conditions are evident in San Diego. The city is dealing with a hepatitis a outbreak that has infected close to 500 people so far; most of those infected are homeless and there have been 18 deaths."