By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Five months later, camping program without takers

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Five months no takers, Ms Gawf's theory suggests some good questions. What is the liability cost? Once a home owner allows someone to camp does the camper have any rights? Is there any hint of landlord tenant law? Can the City support the effort beyond offering a clearing referral service?


It was easy for the owner to ask campers to leave the Hendricks Road property, I don't see why property owners everywhere aren't jumping at this opportunity.


Hendricks road is a prime example of what happens when you let people camp on your property.


Did the vision, long-term planning and the complete and exhaustive proposal include input from citizens? How many residents did the committee get commitments from before they went forward? It's one thing to have a plan, but if it can't be implemented it's not worth the paper it's printed on.

I consider myself a kind-hearted person who cares about the homeless, but I would never allow camping on my property. No way...and I wouldn't want my neighbor opening up their property either.


I'm amazed members of city government aren't the first to welcome campers on their properties. What an example they could make. Plus, their gesture would encourage the rest of us to follow suit--just like in "Jaws" when the mayor insists the townsfolk of Amity celebrate their shark-free zone by taking to the ocean.


The average private Yamhill county homeowner doesn't have the resources to adequately address the complex needs of our homeless. Business and non-profit entities have the infrastructure in place to help these people...attorneys, fundraising, staff, etc.... Shifting the responsibility to homeowners by asking them to allow campers on their property is a well-intended, but misplaced request. Most people understand that doing so could be their worst "squatter" nightmare come true.


I live adjacent to a significant local feeding ministry. Numerous (a dozen? two dozen?) homeless campers covertly occupy the densely wooded area around the church hosting this ministry. A parade of screamed obscenities fills the afternoon air weekdays from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. as ministry users file past my hedge onto the church grounds. Ministry users leave piles of trash in front of my house as they wait for the bus after dining. People routinely pee on my property. My mailbox has been rifled. Men visiting the ministry have attempted to peer inside my windows, creeping up beneath them when my kids were visible inside my house.

In spite of these distinctly negative experiences, I actively work to support this ministry. I recognize the need for nourishment — particularly among those without homes — is crucial. I believe a responsibility rests on those to whom much has been given — a responsibility to do what’s possible to help others in need. I do not generally believe in asking questions. Yes, I recognize shirkers and idlers will avail themselves of help, side-by-side with people in desperate need. But I do not want to deny help to one due to the greed of another.

But my compassion only goes so far.

If, in a misguided attempt to expand its services to those in need, the church elected to allow overt camping on its grounds, my support would immediately cease. My work to lift up the ministry would be replaced by vigorous efforts to remove it entirely.

As with many social crises we’re experiencing today, we must strike a balance between compassion and accountability. On one hand, I’ve been appalled by some of the heartless anti-homeless remarks readers have made elsewhere in this forum. But on the other, we need look no further than Portland to see what unbridled compassion without a hint of accountability looks like. One of the West’s most beautiful cities is being destroyed by its compassion. We should be smarter here.

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