Homeless camp near TriMet stabbing persists even after being torn down

PORTLAND, Ore. - A homeless camp near Interstate 205 in Southeast Portland - frequented by a suspect in a stabbing of a TriMet driver - was cleaned out eight days ago.

It's already back up.

The camp near Southeast Foster Road is an example of the never-ending cycle of hundreds of such camps in the Portland area that show up, get torn down and show up again.

Oregon Department of Transportation posts signs that warn "no camping" for 10 days before workers come in and clear out the encampment. Any left belongings are taken to a storage trailer in Clackamas.

There, the items are kept for 30 days in case someone comes to claim them. Almost no one ever does, said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton.

"Most of this ends up going in the garbage," Hamilton said of the left belongings at camps. "A lot of the homeless people involved with these are familiar with the drill and they know what to take with them when it's time to go."

Under Oregon law, homeless people are allowed to return to the camps the day after they're cleared. The process then starts all over again.

Cleanup again of the camp that was blamed for the stabbing of the TriMet driver could be weeks or months away. There are hundreds of such encampments in Portland, which takes time for ODOT to clear out.

The bus driver, Fadi Hamad, was stabbed July 17 after he was exiting an employee restroom near the I-205 on-ramp. Police are still searching for the suspect and Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward.