Portland homeless camp gets new home

Plan will move group from downtown spot

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PORTLAND — The battle over a half-acre lot in downtown Portland ended in a deal between the city and the homeless encampment occupying the space. But the future of the 60-some people who make the camp their home isn't certain yet.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced the deal Monday, ending a protracted dispute between the camp — whose residents called it a rest area — and the city, which said it was a campground and therefore violating city law.

Fines piled up and went unpaid. The camp sued the city in state court, saying it had misinterpreted its own rules.

Now, Fritz and camp organizers are pitching a new location as the future home of the camp, a spot under a bridge in Northwest Portland owned by the city development commission that's serving as a parking lot for low-income housing.

Though Fritz and camp organizers declared victory on Monday, the move must still win approval for the various zoning and utility requirements the new site will allow. Fritz said at a news conference Monday that she didn't yet have the details of what approvals the camp will require in its new location, nor did she have a timeline for getting their approval.

Fritz plans a public-outreach campaign in the neighborhood, an effort that she said will require her to speak to several varied groups, all asking for her time.

"I will say yes to everything," Fritz said.

The agreement at the new site will last a year, subject to renewal.