A shelter made from pallets and tarps sits along the Bayside Trail on Thursday. The city has put plans to clear the encampment on hold. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

City officials on Thursday said an encampment on the Bayside Trail can stay put for now while staff seeks more guidance from the City Council.

Hours after the city posted notices on tents telling people the site would be cleared because of health and safety concerns, advocates asked the city to wait at least 30 days and meet with them to come up with a better solution. The request and other feedback from the community factored into the city’s decision to change course.

City spokesperson Jessica Grondin said an emergency Health and Human Services and Public Safety Committee meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday to “talk about these issues more in-depth before anything happens.”

“We’re not trying to rush this,” she said. “It’s not that we want to break up an encampment when there aren’t a lot of places to go, but we also realize it’s a health and safety hazard.”

The camp – which currently includes around 50 tents stretching along the trail from Trader Joe’s to Franklin Street – is one of the largest and most visible signs of Portland’s homelessness crisis, which shows no signs of abating despite the opening of a new city shelter that increased the number of beds for unhoused individuals.

Before news of the city’s decision Thursday afternoon, several people living along the trail said they didn’t know what they would do or where they would go if they had to move.


“I don’t have a clue,” said Bruce Cavallaro, 45, who has been living on the trail for about four months and has been homeless off and on for 10 years.

Bruce Cavallaro sits among a cluster of tents behind Trader Joe’s at the homeless encampment along the Bayside Trail on Thursday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The situation has been exacerbated by a large influx of asylum seekers who need housing, and the city is currently providing shelter to around 1,200 people per night, not including those who are on the streets.


City policy states that staff should take a “general non-involvement approach” to unauthorized campsites when city-run shelters are full, though the policy does state that campsites will be removed if they present hazards or are located in “emphasis areas” where camps have presented a repeated or persistent problem.

The city is currently operating three emergency shelter sites, all of which are at capacity.

One of the main reasons the city had sought to remove the camp was its size, Grondin said. She said the city normally advises people to go to the prevention and diversion program office at 39 Forest Ave. to see what resources are available. But if people still feel they have no alternatives, the city asks that they keep campsites small and away from public roads or paths where there are greater chances the camps will be obstructions.


On the trail Thursday, Cavallaro said he understands concerns about the trash.

“Trash cans – that would help,” Cavallaro said, as he sat at a small table drinking a can of Mountain Dew surrounded by piles of blankets, clothes, food wrappers and an assortment of other items. “Bathrooms would be great. Every other home in the city has a bathroom. How come we don’t have one?”

Rick Logan was contemplating his options outside a tent Thursday as he bagged a pile of empty bottles and cans to bring to a redemption center.

Rick Logan, 67, sorts beverage containers near his tent at the homeless encampment along the Bayside Trail on Thursday. Logan, who has been homeless for about a year, said he doesn’t know where he will go if the city makes them leave. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“I have no family or friends, so I have nowhere to go,” said Logan, 67, who said he is a veteran, has a caseworker and has a monthly Social Security income of $2,500, but still can’t find a place to live. He became homeless after a falling out with a roommate in Windham.

“It’s hard to get a place around Portland for some reason,” he said.

Further down the trail near Whole Foods, Jasper Arant was sorting through piles of clothes that she planned to take to a consignment shop to try and make some money. Arant, 46, said she’s been living on the trail for about three months.


“Long story short: COVID, bad decisions, a horrible boyfriend. It all kind of snowballed,” Arant said when asked how she became homeless. She worked as a personal trainer and bartender, but both jobs took a hit during the pandemic. And she struggled with drug addiction after getting injured in a car accident.

She came from Bridgton, thinking there might be more resources to help in a larger city, but so far she hasn’t had much luck. Arant said she has a caseworker but the process of finding shelter or permanent housing has been very slow.

“I don’t know where to go or who to talk to,” she said. “If you don’t know the right people or the right way (to go about it), you don’t get anything. You just sit here and flounder.”

Jasper Arant poses for a portrait in front of a row of camps along the Bayside Trail on Thursday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


Police calls in the area have shot up drastically in the last two months, with 134 calls reported so far this month compared to 107 in March, 68 in February, and 60 in January, according to the Portland Police Department. From January to April 2022, calls for service averaged about 43 per month.

In the last month, there have been 13 overdoses, including two deaths, at the encampment, along with a stabbing and two reports of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. Police department spokesperson Brad Nadeau said the department is not aware of anything else that would be contributing to an uptick in calls in the area.


Some people who live at the encampment said they’ve had belongings stolen. On Thursday, a woman without a phone asked a reporter to call 911 to help someone in a tent who had burned themselves with a candle.

Mayor Kate Snyder said Thursday that she supports pausing the removal and is happy to see that staff will be taking time to work with community partners and the council to address the situation.

“While the current Bayside Trail camp is causing public health and safety issues and concerns, removal of the encampment will only lead to camping in another location or locations and won’t solve the problems or support the people in need,” Snyder said.

A notice from the city attached to a tent at the encampment along the Bayside Trail on Thursday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Councilor April Fournier, who chairs the council committee that will meet next week, is looking forward to talking about the situation with staff and community partners.

“I am hopeful to have a dialogue about developing a community-based solution,” Fournier said in an email. “I don’t have any answers yet, but my hope is to create this space where we can talk about it with a lot of experienced individuals at the table.”



At the Emergency Shelter Assessment Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon, some worried that removing the camp would only further traumatize or harm those suffering from homelessness. Several members suggested that the city provide more resources, such as bathrooms and additional trash cans, or give people more time to work on solutions.

“I feel very strongly against clearing out the campsite,” said Joe McNally, the director of homeless services for Milestone Recovery, which runs a 36-bed emergency shelter for people with substance use disorder.

He said the nonprofit’s shelter is “packed” and they’ve had to turn away 100 to 200 people per month.

“No one wants to be outside. It’s not anything folks strive for, but unfortunately, there are no other options at this time,” McNally said.

Jasper Arant left, and Drewann Gordon talk while Arant sorts through piles of clothes that she planned to take to a consignment shop to sell. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Mary Cook, who leads the Opportunity Alliance’s PATH program to provide case management for homeless individuals, said that removing camps makes it very difficult for outreach workers to connect with people.

“People have set up their homes in these tents,” Cook said. “They’re creating stability and community in these encampments. When you disrupt them, they have to start over with literally nothing.”

Cook said more consistent trash removal, providing trash bags and bathrooms and access to laundry services and showers could all help keep people safer while not disrupting them.

Cook was pleased Thursday to hear of the city’s decision and is hoping the things she mentioned at the meeting can be considered.

“We continue to remain aware of the challenges the city has been presented with regarding homelessness,” Cook said. “They’ve done a lot of advocacy and work to meet all the needs and we understand it’s not the city’s issue. But the removal of the camp certainly isn’t the solution, so we’re happy to see this decision postponed.”

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