Karen Batts, a 52-year-old woman from Portland, Oregon died on Saturday from hypothermia. Karen had been kicked out of her apartment because she owed $338 in rent that she was unable to pay.
After being asked to leave the apartment, she was homeless and living in the Smart Park parking garage. On the afternoon of her death, police were called to 730 SW 10th Avenue, where reports indicated that a woman was undressing in the parking garage.
Although it may seem odd, many victims of hypothermia will remove their clothing as their condition becomes worse. The nerve damage that is caused makes them feel extremely hot.
Batts lived in an apartment building for elderly and disabled people. It is run by Cascade Management, Inc. and Northwest Housing Alternatives, LLC and is meant to be an economically friendly alternative for people who can not afford standard housing or have limited means.
County court records indicate that Batts was evicted from her apartment in October for being seven days late to pay her August rent. On September 9, building managers sent her a notice of her overdue balance and gave her 72 hours to pay it. When she still failed to pay, they sued her and won when she did not show up to the hearing on October 14. Batts was promptly evicted from the building.
According to Martha McLennan, who is the executive director of Northwest Housing Alternatives, Batts had been living in the building since 2007. She had always been a good tenant, but recently, her behavior had been changing. McLennan said she had violated her lease a number of times. Violations included property damage and incidents with staff members.
According to many reports, Batts had always struggled to find a permanent residence. She moved a lot and was evicted from another affordable housing unit in 1996.
But Batts isn’t the only homeless person to die on the streets of Portland. Her death is the second of 2017, and five people have died of hypothermia in Multnomah County in the last five years.