Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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Oregon Moves to Decriminalize Homeless Encampments, Let Homeless Sue if Asked to Leave

'This not acceptable. We need to get people off the streets, not enable them to stay on the streets... '

(Mark Pellin, Headline USA) With Oregon leftists having already decriminalized possession of hard drugs like heroin and fentanyl-derivatives, the Democrat-run state has turned its focus on decriminalizing the hundreds of homeless encampments proliferating throughout the state and endangering public safety and health.

In the same vein, lawmakers are eyeing legislation that would allow peopling living in the encampments to sue for $1,000 if they’re harassed or told to leave.

The proposed law, innocuously titled the Oregon Right to Rest Act, would allow homeless people to use public spaces “without discrimination and time limitations regarding their housing status.” The bill would also allow anyone to live in a vehicle or RV parked on public land “provided that the vehicle is legally parked.”

Under the proposed law, anybody who thinks their rights have been violated is entitled to “compensatory damages or $1,000 per violation, whichever is greater.” Penalties of $1,000 could also be given to anyone who’s deemed to have harassed a homeless person.

The legislation argued that, “Decriminalization of rest allows local governments to redirect resources from local law enforcement activities to activities that address the root causes of homelessness and poverty.”

Oregon has been besieged by rampant homelessness, with large encampments taking over large swaths of neighborhoods, parks and open spaces.

Backlash to the proposed law has been fierce from outraged residents, particularly in urban centers like Portland where hordes of homeless have caused repeated disruptions. A public hearing for the proposal is slated for May 4, but lawmakers have already received upwards of 2,000 letters in response, with a huge majority of them expressing opposition.

“Our elected officials have allowed houselessness to take over sidewalks, parks, trails, hillsides, interstate rights of way and private property,” wrote one frustrated resident, an avid hiker and biker who said he regularly volunteers at homeless shelters, but argued a line must be drawn to protect public health and safety.

“I have been attacked while on a bike, forced to divert around piles of trash, observed countless needles, held my breath due to the offensive odor of urine and feces, witnessed nudity, and am completely dismayed at the trash, junked cars, tents, etc. that litter our public spaces. It’s disgusting and has reached chronic levels despite more money and raised taxes to supposedly fight this problem,” resident Doug Goebel wrote.

Anna Frankowski Nelson echoed those sentiments and related her own horrific experiences of health and safety issues caused by the growing homeless encampments.

“My neighborhood has disruptive members of the homeless community that are not good stewards of this family-friendly neighborhood. There is human feces, needles, condoms, and RVs are broken down on side streets,” she wrote. “This not acceptable. We need to get people off the streets, not enable them to stay on the streets. What is at risk is the safety, livability, and viability of the entire city of Portland. I strongly oppose this bill.”

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