Two new bills headed to Gov. Brown could change how homeless camping is handled in Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. —One month after the city of Medford began enforcing a new Prohibited Camping Ordinance, state laws may be changing. Two bills adjusting camping regulations statewide are now on the governor’s desk.

One bill requires local governments to give more notice before clearing encampments. The other sets limits on anti-camping policies.

Local governments could soon be required to give at least three days’ notice before clearing homeless camps. The House of Representatives passed House Bill 3124 on Wednesday. Current state law only requires 24 hours notice.

“It gives people more time to think about different options whether it be through a service provider, whether it be through staying with a friend, or just locating to a different area that’s not a specific prohibited area,” said Eric Mitton, City of Medford Deputy Attorney.

The city of Medford’s Prohibited Camping ordinance has been utilizing the 72-hour notice since it began being enforced in early May. MPD says the operation, now in its 6th week, has been running smoothly.

“They have to be out in 72 hours and during the 72 hours, you do extensive work with the individuals to get them to a place where they’re not living on the greenway,” Sgt. Kirkpatrick with MPD.

Non-profits like Rogue Retreat have taken notice.

“They’ve had very little push back from this time cleaning it up because most people are getting housed, they’re getting them a place to go and it’s changing it’s just a different atmosphere,” said  Chad McComas, Executive Director of Rogue Retreat.

But that’s not the only bill the legislature is sending to Governor Kate Brown’s desk regarding homelessness. House Bill 3115 sets state restrictions for how cities can enforce anti-camping laws.

Mitton was a part of the league of Oregon cities workgroup that brainstormed the bill’s language. He says cities can’t completely prohibit city-wide sleeping on public property.

“But a municipality can impose reasonable time place and manner restrictions on how individuals are sleeping outside on the public property,” said Mitton.

For a state with a growing homelessness population, the new bills, if signed by the governor, would create clearer rules for local governments.

In a press conference Wednesday, Rogue Retreat announced it is expanding, to meet the needs of the community.

It averages 325 people under a roof per night. Later this year, it plans to add an additional 100-200 beds.

*This article has been updated to reflect the correct numbers from Rogue Retreat.

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