Residents of one Portland neighborhood say as many as 16 people have broken into two vacant houses on their street and are coming in and out at all hours, piling up trash and leaving used needles in the grass.

“It’s unbearable to watch your whole city become a dumpster fire,” said Annette Benedetti, who lives nearby. She described what it’s been like since a group of about 16 houseless people moved into the neighborhood.

“It’s a living nightmare,” added Dustin Shannon, another neighbor. “There’s no peace of mind, there is no sleeping well at night — every little noise, I’m jumpy.”

Shannon and his family have lived in this neighborhood for 19 years. His backyard is next to one of the vacant houses, which he said has been empty for over a year. Now, a group of houseless people has moved in.

“It just gets worse and worse by the day, more and more of them are showing up,” he said. “Stolen cars are showing up, they’ve got a pile of garbage out back that is taller than me.”

Imagine having to work every day so you can pay the mortgage on your Portland home only to have a bunch of unemployed drug addicts break in next door and drive the value of your property down to nothing. No one is going to want to buy these homes so long as the homeless are camped out next door. But when the homeowners call police, they are told there aren’t enough cops to deal with anything as low priority as squatters.

Sergeant Kevin Allen told KGW that the agency sympathizes with neighbors who feel unsafe, but wants to remind people that they are severely short staffed and that they address life safety and major crimes first. Other issues, like the ones in this neighborhood, either have to wait or can’t be addressed at all.

The Portland Police Bureau reports losing more than 250 officers since 2020 and expects to lose another 20 this month, making responding to problems like these even harder.

Dustin Shannon says he’s invested in a security system and a gun. He also keeps a baseball bat by the front and back door at all times.

Defund the police isn’t specifically mentioned in the story that’s precisely what it’s all about. Ever since the city cut funding and let city police officers know they weren’t wanted or appreciated, the number of officers has been dropping. Back in March, Police Chief Lovell said that by the end of July there might be as few as 700 officers for a city of 650,000 people. Frankly, if these homeowners voted for the city leaders who pushed the defund idea two years ago then they have only themselves to blame. This is what happens when you reinvent criminal justice without a plan to deal with crime.

Meanwhile, there really are much worse things for the police who are still on the job to worry about. In April I wrote about a woman who was nearly raped and then waited 2 minutes on hold for police and another 20+ minutes before police arrived to arrest the suspect. A city that can barely respond to a rapist definitely doesn’t have the manpower to deal with squatters.

Still, this is a nightmare for the people who have to deal with it. Here’s the KGW report.

And as a bonus, here’s a similar KGW report from earlier this week about homeless people who are breaking into an apartment complex in the city. Again, the police have no manpower to do anything about it so residents have no recourse but to watch the homes they pay good money for to become a haven for addicts and their garbage.

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