Some homeless encampments, such as this one on Somerset Street in Portland, will be cleared by the city on Nov. 1. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The city is planning to clear two smaller homeless encampments near the Marginal Way park-and-ride next month, just as the state plans to sweep a larger camp in the lot.

City spokesperson Jessica Grondin said the city is not sure yet how or whether the Nov. 1 sweeps will be coordinated between the state and city. The city’s Encampment Crisis Response Team will meet Monday to iron out more details, she said.

The city recently posted notices at camps along Marginal Way and at a small encampment on Somerset Street near Noyes Self Storage.

Grondin emphasized that the city is not focused on the sweep date, but instead is ramping up outreach and trying to get everyone to leave the areas voluntarily.

This encampment on Marginal Way in Portland will be cleared by the city on Nov. 1. Smaller ones nearby will also be cleared, the city says. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“We aren’t even thinking about Nov. 1 right now,” she said. “We want to get people into shelter.”

Since June, the crisis response team has been trying to bring people into a shelter before scheduled sweeps. The team had struggled to convince people to go into the city shelter, and the number of tents in the city has continued to climb, but over the last few weeks the city’s Homeless Services Center has seen more people from the encampments coming through its doors.


Grondin reported Wednesday that 16 people have entered the shelter from Marginal Way since mid-September. In comparison, only 12 people entered the shelter from the encampments throughout the entire summer. Last week, Health and Human Services Director Kristen Down chalked this up to an increase in outreach from the city and the increasingly cold weather.

The city recently hired several more outreach workers to work with people living at the encampments, providing information and support to get them to move into a shelter. The city also has been hosting housing fairs at the Marginal Way encampment and has created a marketing flyer for the shelter that they plan to distribute in the coming weeks, Grondin said. 

As of Wednesday, there were 295 tents in Portland, according to the city’s tracker.

The city has been fielding concerns from business owners on Marginal Way and other residents who say that the encampments are dangerous, not just for the community around them, but for the people living in them.

People protest against homeless encampment sweeps in front of Portland City Hall on Monday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

A number of protests have been staged at City Hall over the past few weeks demanding the city stop the encampment sweeps. Those who oppose them say the sweeps are unethical and treat homeless people as less than human. Some research concludes that sweeps lead to worse outcomes for homeless people.

Donna Yellen, vice president of strategic communications at Preble Street, wrote in an emailed statement Wednesday that while she is “horrified” by conditions at the encampments, sweeps still do more harm than good.

“People will just end up moving their tents and other gear that’s critical for survival during these cold months to a different location. The trauma of losing their belongings and moving once again is harmful,” wrote Yellen.

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