Oregonians blast lawmakers over proposed bill to legalize homeless camps

Over 2,000 written statements in opposition were received through the legislature's website.

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Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
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Oregon Democratic lawmakers have canceled a public hearing on a bill that would have allowed homeless people to camp in public places and sue if told to leave, following massive pushback.

Democratic lawmakers proposed the bill that would have decriminalized camping on public property and would allow homeless individuals to sue for up to $1,000 if they are "harassed" or told to relocate.



House Bill 3501, also known as the “Right to Rest Act,” was sponsored by Democratic state Reps. Farrah Chaichi and Khanh Pham. It stated that “persons experiencing homelessness” will have "a privacy interest and a reasonable expectation of privacy in any property belonging to the person, regardless of whether the property is located in a public space."

The bill added that the homeless will "be permitted to use public spaces in the same manner as any other person without discrimination based on their housing status" and stated that they have a right to "move freely in public spaces without discrimination and time limitations that are based on housing status."

According to House Majority Leader Julie Fahey, the bill missed key deadlines and would not have been able to advance this legislative session anyway, and Thursday's now-canceled hearing would have been only for public input. "The fact that the bill is dead and can't become law hasn't been made clear in press reports, leading to an enormous amount of confusion and consternation among many," and added she does not support the bill.

twitter.com/juliefahey/status/1653584687565266944

Over 2,000 written statements in opposition were received through the legislature's website. Fahey added that the bill had become a "significant distraction" from representatives' work.

Oregon's homeless population spiked approximately 22.5 percent from 2020 to 2022, Fox News reported. Portland Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office reported a 50 percent increase in homelessness from 2019 to 2022. 

According to census data, Portland lost 0.04 percent of its population after 30 years straight of growth; the general population has declined for three years in a row.

Portland resident Jacob Adams told Fox & Friends in February "I love Portland, and I love where I live," discussing a homeless encampment next to his house, where there are regular fires and drug activity, even gunshots. "I'm asking you to please do something, so the people of the city feel safe."

Eugene, OR resident Laine Radcliffe told a local outlet last month, "No one is legally supposed to be camping here, no one is supposed to be giving fellatio in the corner, no one’s supposed to be shooting up heroin in plain sight, no one’s supposed to be trespassing on our property."
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