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Wheeler 'not convinced' R2DToo will move by April 7 deadline

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Mayor says city is searching for new location but can't promise one will be found.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - The Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp has not yet found a new home.Right 2 Dream Too, the temporary homeless camp now in its fifth year at Northwest 4th and Burnside, is supposed to be gone in exactly one month.

But right now it doesn't look like that will happen. Leaders with the camp told KOIN 6 News they meet weekly with City Hall leaders and that moving day is not on their calendar.

Ever since the tent camp set up with permission from the landowner in 2011, city officials have searched and failed to get a permanent spot for the 70 or so people at R2DToo.

The city wants to buy the private property and the Portland Development Commission already paid the owner $300,000. Mayor Ted Wheeler knows the deadline is looming.

Asked Tuesday if the city is prepared to lose the money and the property, Wheeler told KOIN 6 News, "I'm doing my best to find an alternative but I'm being honest with people — I'm not convinced we will."

Wheeler is adamant a permanent solution is needed for the homeless, which is why he rejected a temporary move proposed by Commissioner Amanda Fritz to a site along Southwest Naito Parkway.

And Wheeler realizes the property owner could decide after the April 7 deadline to sell to a private developer. A time extension is a possibility, but the city is still in a bind: the developer of the hotel across the street from R2DToo is suing the city to get the campers out.

However, some people in the area where the camp is have accepted it.

Katen Bush credits R2DToo for watching out for the block and chasing away drug dealers. But even if the camp is relocated, she says that's not a solution.

"I think the homeless issue is a bigger, long-term issue than just R2DToo," Bush said.

Wheeler agrees but isn't giving up trying to find another place for those campers, despite the long odds.

"We're burning up the phones but I'm not convinced we will have a solution between now and April 7," Wheeler said.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.