A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On Simpson trail: Picking up campers’ trash

Written March 5th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

A cleanup of homeless camps took place today in the jungle that is the Willamette riverfront off Albany’s Simpson Park. And from the looks of it, cleaning up the place is a never-ending task.

Rick Barnett of the Albany Parks Department let me know that a Linn County sheriff’s work crew would be picking up homeless camps along the Simpson Park trail, and I took a bike ride to take a look.

By the time I got there just before noon, they had already picked up a couple of camps and were tackling two or three more. A parks department truck would take the accumulated refuse to the parks’ yard at Timber-Linn Park, to be picked up there by Republic Services.

Scenes from the work in progress:

Today’s work was taking place along the east end of the unimproved trail and various side paths between Bowman and Simpson parks. As I understand it, the Albany police came through there a few days before and told the campers to move on.

West of where the crew was laboring, there was more cleanup work to do, as you can see:

Homeless camps and the debris they leave behind afflict not just the woods along Albany’s riverfront but public spaces up and down the West Coast. Idealists hope to solve it by providing, somehow, more shelters and “affordable housing.” But surely a bigger societal change is needed to reverse the breakdown symbolized by these scenes.

No longer tolerating vagrancy and the trashing of public land might be a start. (hh)

18 responses to “On Simpson trail: Picking up campers’ trash”

  1. Louisa Shelby says:

    If its not tolerated then where will they go? Jail is certainly expensive for is and not an answer to a social problem. I used to hike there a lot over the years and it was a little scary but we need to walk.
    More shelters are needed or the societal change of more help to those in poverty, higher minimum wage etc.

    • Mac says:

      Humans just need to accept that just like with all species the weak and diseased need to be allowed to die. It is what it is. Be way better off in the long run.

  2. Terri Wilson says:

    Social change yes, but not more laws, only fills for profit jails. Medical , higher wages, and affordable housing to be required in a ratio to new housing permits. Low cost housing to be built with all housing development!

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Evidently Oregon’s TEN-Year Plan to END Homelessness ordered by Governor Kulongoski (remember him?) in 2006 hasn’t been effective.

    In the spring of 2006 the Albany council ordered city staff to roust the homeless from this same area.

    Fast forward 14 years and the problem is worse, not better.

    It’s probably time for a new 10 year plan.

    The solution? I’m open to whatever works. It clearly hasn’t been found through many, many years of government planning and spending.

  4. Rev. Tim Graves says:

    One person’s trash is the whole of another’s possessions. This represents our collective failure to share earth’s abundance with one another. The radical greed that funnels wealth to a very few and dismisses other human beings as expendable is the problem. The trash is merely a symptom of our failure to care enough, to love our neighbors enough to make radical changes. It will continue until we stop blaming the poor and unhoused for the systems that trap them.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      “The radical greed that funnels wealth to a very few and dismisses other human beings as expendable is the problem.”

      Let’s assume you are correct about greed, wealth, and the homeless. If tomorrow the federal government confiscated every U.S. billionaire’s net worth the federal government would run out of spending money in 9 months or so.

      After 9 months or so, who would you then blame for the homeless problem?

  5. My Real Name John Hartman says:

    You have to love Hering’s humane response to homelessness: He opines with all the compassion of Jesus on the Mount when he writes:
    “…a bigger societal change is needed to reverse the breakdown,,, No longer tolerating vagrancy and the trashing of public land might be a start. (hh)

    Yes, INTOLERANCE is always the answer. If you criminalize it and become less tolerant, the problem is certain to disappear. Sheer genius!

  6. H. R. Richner says:

    The party in charge of Oregon needs ever more victims for it to prosper. No lame attempt at sarcasm is going to change that. The path to totalitarian tyranny is the constant trend to replace individual responsibility with a presumed collective one, where everything becomes a “right” except personal liberty and property.

  7. Ean says:

    Seems to me like the reason these camps are by the rivers and outskirts is because they aren’t tolerated or accepted. Not that I claim to know a solution.

  8. Brad says:

    The more homeless shelters you open, the more homeless move to Albany. These people need actual help with their mental issues and addictions. I think adults in general need easy access to counseling. Just having someone to talk to might prevent some of the problems in the first place. Hopefully this new place opening up at the old Pizza King will provide a little of that.

  9. Doug B. Jackson says:

    I think Hasso Hering should be elected to public office. I’d love to hear all his ideas to solve the homeless problem, and see them enacted. This would give him the excellent chance to actually help alleviate the problem, rather than just write about it.

  10. centrist says:

    Not sure how to phrase a reply, so I’ll just start.
    What is this “Homeless Crisis”?
    Many are adamant that they know the single cause and that they have THE ONE SOLUTION.
    I certainly can’t contribute to a discussion about cause or solution.
    Choice, addiction, fully employed but can’t afford rent, on and on.
    In another thread, GS makes a point about an ROI for public investment. This thread brings up specific costs. It’s time to make the ROI evaluation and spend public funds to establish causality and remediation paths.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      An ROI construct “only” will result in a very dystopian community IMO, simply because it does not take into consideration community-social needs. Even the “Strong Community” author is huge on that as GS is well aware…

      • centrist says:

        Can’t disagree with your ROI thoughts. Note that I didn’t day I agreed with GS. However, his energy might be useful in putting a price/cost to.contributors.
        It’s important tp consider that benefit analysis isn’t go/nogo. Lots of gray to consider

  11. Dala Rouse says:

    Maybe what would help is if they went back to rooming houses like we used to have. Many get some monies from the state or federal government but isn’t enough to pay for housing on their own but enough to pay for a room, where meals are included in the cost. At one time the Monteith House was a rooming house. If you look at old city directories you can see where some people are listed as rooming at someones rooming house. I live by the river and if you talk to some of the people that live there they say they don’t go to some of the shelters because of bedbugs or other problems like not allowing dogs.

  12. Peggy Richner says:

    You and your readers might get clarification by reading “Life At the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass (2001), by Anthony Malcolm Daniels, M.D., aka Theodore Dalyrmple. Daniels is a psychiatrist with much experience in working with prisoners and their loved ones in the East End of London.

  13. Birdieken says:

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. What do you do when people don’t want your help?


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