Police: ODOT say homeless camps are costing taxpayers

Taxpayers often foot the bill to clean up homeless camps.

Posted: Feb 23, 2018 7:18 PM
Updated: Sep 16, 2019 4:00 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Homeless camps have become a major problem in Lane County, and they could be costing taxpayers money.

KEZI 9 News teamed up with Springfield Police Sgt. Rick Lewis to visit some of the camps and find out how they are costing the community.

“They seem to collect a tremendous amount of trash," Lewis said. "It's shocking how much they can collect.” 

Someone has to clean up that trash, which means someone has to pay for a cleanup crew. Lewis said since homeless camps are often on public land, the Oregon Department of Transportation foots that bill.

"ODOT has been pretty responsive when we call them up and say, 'hey, we've got a huge mess under this bridge,'" Lewis said. "They do a pretty good job of working with us and getting it cleaned up."

ODOT officials said the money for cleanup comes out of their maintenance budget, which they said has been rising because of the camps. That budget includes taxpayer dollars.

If a homeless camp is not on public land, it can affect business owners. If the trash is found on their property, the cost of cleanup, sometimes thousands of dollars, comes straight out of their pockets.

If the property has human waste on it, which Lewis said it often does, a hazmat team is required. 

Lewis said part of the solution is donating to programs around town like the Eugene Mission that know how to help homeless people.

"They all provide services and that's what's needed,” he said. Lewis adds it's best not to give cash handouts on the streets.

If you’re interested in donating to the Eugene Mission, click here.

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