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Portland homeless can camp in cars in church lots

Religious, nonprofit groups testing idea
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Occupy Portland protesters sleep outside of city hall on Wednesday in Portland. Homeless people in Portland will be allowed to camp in their cars in the parking lots of religious and nonprofit organizations under a test program approved Wednesday by the City Council.AP
 Posted: 2:00 AM December 23, 2011

PORTLAND — Homeless people in Portland will be allowed to camp in their cars in the parking lots of religious and nonprofit organizations under a test program approved Wednesday by the City Council.

The council voted for a one-year test of the idea, which is much like a car camping program in Eugene, The Oregonian reported.

Organizations could allow up to four cars, RVs or trailers, but not tents, provided they also follow several other rules.

Those include: displaying signs that tell neighbors they gave permission to the campers to sleep overnight; ensuring access to toilets and garbage pickup; and disallowing hookups to electricity, water and sewer service.

Portland Commissioner Nick Fish spearheaded the idea after getting a cool reception to it two years ago.

"I had a hard time getting any traction," he said. "The response was 'not now.'"

Occupy Portland and a highly visible new homeless camp in the city's Old Town district along with an 8 percent uptick in homelessness in Multnomah County this year created what Fish called a fresh "sense of crisis."

He got support from Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, a faith-based nonprofit in Portland.

Fish and two other members of the council approved the test program. Two others, including Mayor Sam Adams, were absent.


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