Willamette Week: How One Portland Neighborhood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Homeless

By Rachel Monahan | Published August 2, 2016

Portland Police Officer Jason Jones arrives early in the morning at Slough Town.

Three hand-built wooden rafts sit atop plastic barrels moored to the water’s edge in the Columbia Slough. On one raft and on the land nearby are a few camping tents. The other two rafts hold handmade tiny houses, constructed from wood pallets and plastic tarps.

The captain of this flotilla goes by the name Gilligan. His real name is Danny Ferren. He’s 39 years old with a meth addiction and minor brushes with the law over the past 10 years. A year ago, he picked this out-of the-way bog as a homestead.

Now living in the slough—a swampy channel of water bordering the Columbia River near Portland International Airport—with a half-dozen other homeless people, Gilligan is facing a cop.

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