Homeless Using Portland State University Campus as Shelter

PSU officials say 12 people have received warnings for trespassing on campus and two have been arrested so far this year.

Homeless Using Portland State University Campus as Shelter

Many of the homeless are using PSU for shelter or digging through the trash to look for food or things to sell.

Students at Portland State University (PSU) are reporting that homeless people are using their campus as shelter.

The homeless are sleeping in study areas and students are looking at campus security to intervene.

“It has become obvious that area homeless people are using the Portland State University Union as a weather shelter and as a place to sleep, even going so far as to pretend to be PSU students,” one student said in an email to FOX 12 Oregon.

PSU officials say 12 people have received warnings for trespassing on campus and a second offense will result in a ticket. Two repeat offenders have been ticketed and two more have been arrested so far this year.

Badges are required to enter buildings during after hours, however, during the day the campus is easily accessible to the public.

According to PSU student Ulises Zavaleta, during the day, “there’s a lot of homeless people walking through Cramer Hall or Lincoln Hall, kind of picking through the garbage and through the recycling.”

Not all students are as concerned about the homeless as others. Some say they are just trying to get by and they don’t bother anyone.

“We’ve rarely had a situation where a homeless person has been combative or disrespectful,” said student Linneas Boland-Godbey.

Boland-Godbey even believes that the school should be doing more to help homeless people. He says many rooms on campus are not being used.

PSU officials say they are aware of the safety concerns and are working to resolve them.

The campus hired an independent consultant to oversee a campus safety assessment and established its Homeless Research & Action Collaborative, a center “dedicated to addressing the issue of homelessness in Portland.”

The results of the safety assessment will be made public next week. The school is considering security upgrades such as making all buildings only accessible with a student badge at all times.

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About the Author


Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety's Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS's Web Editor since 2018.

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One response to “Homeless Using Portland State University Campus as Shelter”

  1. Holla Holla says:

    Something we have in Oregon is a 10 cent deposit on most beverage containers and anyone who present them to a retailer receives redemption in CASH, no questions asked. For this reason, cans are colloquially called “bum gold” by the transient community. Unfortunately, it has also put every property who produce empty cans on shopping list of transients. There’s a church near campus that has become so fed up with transients breaking into the trash and recycling storage area that they put up a sign that reads “no deposit containers kept here”. Services are generous in Portland as far as clothing and food. It’s my understanding that many drug addicts collect cans for feeding their habits. This means the impact of “canning” have a tendency to impact others and incubate opportunistic crime. Their main shopping item is cans, but some will case cars and prowl if opportunity arises. I have a theory that they might not come around if cans were not available in the first place.

    So, I have reached out to the university’s Community Environmental Services, (www.pdx.edu/ces) and suggested to them that they encourage segregating and collecting cans as an institution and funneling the proceeds to benefit sustainability based projects or scholarships. By removing cash redeemable cans in places that have been implicitly open for grabs, it would partially remove incentives for scavengers to come onto campus. It would help things downstream to such as reduction in these people coming into stores to redeem these cans.

    I was basically told they’re not really in need of funding and they had no intentions of doing it, because they didn’t want to make life harder for gleaners (serial can scavengers). I’m surprised they’re willing to consider barricading the doors shut but unwilling to try out something that requires hardly any investment to implement.


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