- A property developer who has been operating in Portland for four decades is pulling out after he was forced to take a 50 percent hit on a building
- The building had become home to homeless squatters who continued to live there even after the building was boarded up
- Kevin Howard first listed the building in January 2021 seeking $795,000 but ended up settling for just $412,000 when he sold this year
A property developer who has been operating in crime-ridden Portland for four decades says that he’s pulling out of the city because he has ‘nothing left in the tank’ after recently selling one property for nearly half its listed value.
Kevin Howard, 75, told KATU in a recent interview that the property in question had become home to squatters after the pizza restaurant that had been renting the space shuttered 2020. He listed the building in January 2021 for $795,000 but ended up selling for $412,000 this year.
‘The supposed homeless came in and kicked in the door, the front door, and lived in it. And I waited until they came out, and I had to board it up,’ Howard said.
Despite boarding up the property, Howard said the squatters were able to break-in again and resume living there.
When he called the police, Howard said the was referred to another government office, Central City Concern, but was told that they agency wouldn’t be able to do much other than provide coffee and soup for the vagrants.
The cost of a security guard was estimated to cost $15,000 per month, something that Howard couldn’t afford. Eventually, he ringfenced the building, something that took four months to organize.
‘I said, ‘Why?’ They said: ‘Because homeowners like mad are fencing their property to keep the, you know, the drug addicts and homeless out.”
With the building fenced off, trash began to pile up, Howard said. He was issued with a fine of $540 from the city, which he agreed to pay.
On top of everything else, Howard said that the city mishandled his check and issued him a new fine that included a late payment fee, coming to $640. At that point, Howard said that he was told a lien had been placed on the building.
‘I just remember the phrase ‘The City That Works.’ The city that jerks. I mean, how can you be this dysfunctional?’ City officials told the station that Howard no longer has any outstanding debts with the local government.
‘I’ve been all over the world. I lived in Australia for a couple of years. I’ve been to all 50 states and all over. I came back to Portland, and I came back to Oregon because I loved it. I loved the people, the greenery, the lifestyle,’ Howard said.
Over the past 12 months, Howard told KATU that he has spent a total of $23,000 on managing the property, including the cost of fencing as well as multiple cleanups that needed to be done on the space.
Online records show that Howard, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, is the founder of Northwest Self Storage, which operates in three states in the region.
Howard’s story is nothing new. In September 2022,
Homelessness and crime continue to be rife in Portland. Earlier this month, officials announced that they would be removing tents that were blocking sidewalks in the city.
This came after Portland settled a lawsuit with a group with disabilities.
Lifelong residents Bruce and Rebecca ‘Becky’ Philip who told DailyMail.com that they’re ‘done with Portland’ due to the increasing number of homeless camps that have trickled into the suburbs from downtown.
‘I’ve been here 65 years but I’m done,’ Bruce Philip said. ‘I’m done with Portland.’
‘What’s there to say, they move in, take over the neighborhood, do their drugs, play their loud music, and make a mess,’ he said, adding that the homeless crisis has ruined not just a few neighborhoods, but all of Portland.
The couple also pointed out that the sweeps of the homeless camps are not the final solution and have not changed their minds about moving.
‘The city comes in and cleans it up and then two weeks later, they come back,’ Bruce Philip said. ‘It’s a vicious cycle, and I’m done.’
Local realtor George Patterson told DailyMail.com that the homeless encampments encroaching on residents’ front lawns is a topic that comes up with his clients ‘every day’, and that deals are falling through homes for sale in the area.
In one case, an early offer for a three-bedroom home asking close to $700,000 near a sanctioned homeless encampment, called Multnomah Village.
‘We had early offer on a home, but it fell through and there was some concern there with the Multnomah village site,’ Patterson said.
‘I can say [homeless encampments] are definitely affecting the property values.’
The federal class action lawsuit, filed in September, alleged that the city violated the American with Disabilities Act by allowing tents to obstruct sidewalks. The plaintiffs included a caretaker and nine people with disabilities who use wheelchairs, scooters, canes and walkers to get around. The settlement still requires approval from the City Council and the U.S. District Court in Portland.
The settlement comes as City Council prepares to consider new restrictions on camping. The updates to the city’s camping code would ban camping between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in many locations, including sidewalks.
Mayor Ted Wheeler plans to present the ordinance Wednesday. The City Council previously voted in November to gradually ban street camping and create at lease six large, designated campsites where homeless people will be allowed to camp.
Oregon’s homelessness crisis has been fueled by an affordable housing shortage, a lack of mental health treatment, high drug addiction rates and the coronavirus pandemic.
In Multnomah County, home to Portland, there were more than 5,000 people experiencing homelessness in 2022 — a 30 percent increase compared with 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to federal point-in-time count data.
In 2022, the city approved the release of $27 million in funding to pay for new homeless camps.
At the time of the approval, Mayor Wheeler acknowledged the measure was controversial but that he nonetheless believes in it ‘very, very deeply.’
Wheeler and other supporters of the measure contend it will make streets safer and connect homeless people with social services.