Beloved homeless gardener asked to leave lot in SE Portland

Beloved homeless gardener asked to leave lot in SE Portland - KATU photo from reporter Lashay Wesley

A homeless man has been told to leave a vacant property in Southeast Portland after he's been caring for the space for several years.

The lot is located across the street from Westmoreland Park, and is filled with a vibrant garden. Perry Mcinturff, a homeless man and avid gardener, told KATU News he has been caring for the garden for close to seven years - transforming it into an oasis from overgrown weeds.

"I just want to build beauty. I work for free," Mcinturff said.

Mcinturff filled the space with roses, fruits, vegetables, and a well cared-for lawn.

"It's appreciation to the city, it's an appreciation to the people who live here in this neighborhood. They have a place to bring their children," he said.

Mcinturff spends his day taking care of the garden and sleeps on the property at night.

At 60 years old, Mcinturff is fit with a big, overgrown beard, long wavy hair and callused hands from working in the dirt.

On Sunday, Mcinturff will have to find somewhere else to sleep. He said police have told him he has to leave by the end of the night.

Portland Police said it has responded to the property before for reports of loud behavior, drinking, and drug use.

The property is owned by Michael Feves, who owns the neighboring Crystal Shores Apartments.

Feves told KATU News on the phone some of his tenants and neighbors have complained to police about Perry. He said a city code inspector told him he could be cited for having an 'illegal occupant' on his property.

The Bureau of Development Services did not respond to KATU News for additional information.

People who live nearby said they appreciate the garden.

"He's very hard-working. He's always in here working. Sweating, bleeding, putting his life force into this," said Benjamin Bowman, who lives in the apartment complex next door.

He said he's concerned about what will happen to Mcinturff.

"He calls this is home, he's not going to have all those hours in his day to occupy himself with the thing he loves, which is gardening and landscaping." he said.

Perry said he is not sure where he will sleep at night, but expects it to be somewhere on the street.

"I'm not a homeless man. This is my neighborhood. I choose to be an outdoorsman," Mcinturff said. "A man who doesn't want no money, a man who just wants love, to keep his heart pure. That's all I want."

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