“You can’t stay here any more.”
After months of telling park rangers and police to avoid issuing that order to people living in tents along the major Portland biking path, Willamette Week and The Oregonian are reporting that Mayor Charlie Hales plans to order a sweep of the length of the corridor within city of Portland boundaries (the eastern border is SE Jenne Rd/174th).
Here’s more from Hales in a video created by The Oregonian:
Hales tells The Oregonian that, “The Springwater is going to have to be off limits. We’re going to try to accommodate homeless people in the short term here and there.” Pressure to remove people from the lands around the Springwater has built in the past year as business owners, other residents, and environmental advocates have raised concerns about the impacts of the camps.
“Unfortunately, for people on the streets, our public parks are one of the only places left to go,” Street Roots editor Israel Bayer tells Willamette Week. “Until we have massive investments in affordable housing stock I don’t see the situation changing.”
Yesterday we excerpted a recent article on the local poverty news site Poor for a Minute. A modified version of that article also ran yesterday in Willamette Week, observing that the camp may have become the largest in the United States. Those articles also observed that camps of more than six people are forbidden under the urban camping policy brokered over the last year by Hales and his staff.
This major announcement comes as the camp on the Springwater has swelled significantly in recent months. This is due in part to an increase in police resources that have been spent to drive the camps outside of the downtown core.
Asked what will happen if people try to camp on the Springwater area to camp after the sweeps are completed (around August 1st), Hales told The Oregonian, “That’s the last resort. Criminalizing homelessness and sending people to jail because they’re camping in the wrong place is not our first, second or third choice.”
Read more in The Oregonian.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.
Be interesting to see where they relocate.
Probably the Gresham side of the Springwater.
I thought I read that Gresham had banned camping.
soon no place will be able to ban homeless camping after the Bell v Boise case works its way through the system… once all the shelter beds run out people will be allowed to camp…
Bell v. Boise was dismissed. Done. DOJ’s Statement of Interest, whatever it may be worth and as odd as it was, is still out there. Doing what, no one’s sure, but it’s out there.
I wonder if the city of Gresham knows that Portland’s boundary ends at SE 174th… There’s a fairly large camp/bicycle chop-shop probably less than 100 ft from the boundary – on the Gresham side.
Gresham still has orange snow fence up and Gresham Woods is technically closed. I don’t think authorities will allow that.
They should be right in front of city hall. This city deserves it.
why’s that exactly?
Thank god. I have complete empathy for people who don’t have houses or a place to live, but the Springwater mess was intolerable. Let’s get these folks into permanent housing and get them the assistance they need…ASAP!
What what money? With what laws?
So far, City Council cannot compel developers to build affordable housing, anymore than it can require employers to pay a real living wage or even compel citizens to pay unilaterally-levied taxes (see Arts Tax). In short, our municipal government is powerless to enact any meaningful, long-term solutions to homelessness without the support of citizens and the business community. And this is a microcosm of what is happening — or will eventually happen — in other cites as they grow more popular and attract more people. Portland is the tip of a national iceberg of the rapidly-widening chasm between the homeless and everyone else. Unless every single person with a stable home and a secure job took it upon themselves to house one homeless person privately… well, I don’t see that happening, do you?
This is a NATIONAL problem. It requires National solutions including legislation; re-directing of funds (from global wars for oil to national and state job-training and home-building efforts on a par with the old WPA); restoration of adequate mental health care resources; and a massive educational undertaking in every school to grow a generation of young people who may someday stop seeing the homeless as the Other.
Al these little band-aids, like periodic sweeps, only exacerbate the problem.
And based on what happening with our election cycle this year, I don’t see anything to hope for on the national horizon.
Is anyone here ready to take on their fair share of personal responsibility for this? What would it look like?
“What what money? With what laws? …” beth
True… . What number of people are camp residents along the Springwater Corridor trail, that will be displaced by Mayor Hales’s decision, and what is it going to involve in order to place them in at least minimally decent, serviceable housing?
Number crunchers ought to have a great time, putting together a simple per person estimate of how much it would cost city residents (employed and housed people), to move and house soon to be displaced people that have been living in these camps, into at least, the lowest cost, safe, warm and dry shelter with clean water and bathroom facilities. Be prepared for a huge expense, easily thousands of dollars person in need of being housed…that the public isn’t going to be want to shoulder; and may not be able to shoulder.
Best outcome many people in the city may be hoping for as a result of Hale’s decision: displaced campers decide to pack up, hop a train and leave for a city more receptive to them than Portland may be becoming. Good bet, is the displaced most likely won’t leave the city, but will move closer in, to live amidst the neighborhoods. In other words, ‘from bad to worse’.
A visionary national leader, should we be so fortunate to have one take the top political office in the land, would devise and put together a plan to focus on having all the unemployed, un-housed, occupationally dysfunctional people in U.S. cities and neighborhoods…employed, housed, and cared for otherwise if they’re not able to compete within the system provide these basic needs themselves.
The city spends plenty on the houseless already. Volunteers in this city have put together proposals, which the city accepted, for housing the houseless in the types of camps shown to be successful in other cities. We would provide mental health, medical health, drug alcohol services, (etc) on site, and we could do it for less than the city currently pays per capita. However, every time space has been found the city council has either nixed it or put us off repeatedly. Remember the women’s camp that started up on mother’s day next to Hiway 205? That was land the city told the volunteers they could have–until they moved there on the appointed day. Those were women who were at very high risk of revictimization. Most arel back on the street; two months AFTER the city promised to provide land within two weeks. Could we cure the problem? NO. Can anything cure the problem? NO. But we could make some serious inroads and improve matters for the city and particularly for the housed and unhoused living here. Now the city is sending people to live on the city streets in camps of 6 or fewer…that’s gonna be in your neighborhoods, all over the city. 500 people in groups of 6 = 83 new groups on our streets. They’re not going anywhere, and they aren’t settling here from other cities: a survey of houseless people mostly on the springwater found that over 92% of respondents have lived in Portland over 10 years. (surveys on-going). There is no simple solution to the Homeless Crisis but simply sweeping people and giving them nowhere else to go is none of them, and is probably unconstitutional.
To see the survey, go to the bottom of an article on this subject: http://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2016/07/15/18377368/as-springwater-sweep-looms-mayor-charlie-hales-says-camping-policy-has-not-succeeded-as-we-hoped
Having lived here for over ten years doesnt’t mean people aren’t moving here from other cities.
~32% of adults in Portland were born in Oregon. Do you think the homeless population is so different?
I don’t know. I would guess that most of us are transplants, which was my point in another post. The homeless situation in certain cities is a serious issue that needs to also be handled with state and federal support.
Dang. My reply is below.
What money? Maybe a very small fraction of the $18,000,000,000,000.00 or so that our national economic GDP is worth. Don’t say that the wealthiest (by far) nation to have ever existed – total and by per capita GDP can’t do anything. It’s just that Americans don’t care and don’t want to be bothered with dealing with our sick society.
Read: “I have empathy until the problem is right in my face.”
Maybe you can offer up camping in front of your house.
I would be thrilled to, and think about it all the time, but my housemates and neighbors would never go for it, and code forbids it, and I can’t afford to pay those fines.
so, are you going to do it, or not?
How many homeless people are you taking in?
Nothing wrong with meeting your own needs.
Just because other people have hardship does not mean we all have to reduce ourselves until everything is even.
These campers were making people avoid biking. With all of the death caused by cars on our road we should be doing anything we can to make sure people feel safe on their bicycles.
I’d rather hear stories about moving them *to* rather than moving them *from*.
In this case it sounds like there’s a patchwork plan full of temporary places and limited funding; without a long-term plan we’re just kicking the can down the road.
Mixed-use zoning needed in Ladd’s Addition and Irvington.
Ladd’s Addition’s dirty little secret: it’s actually home to a lot of “missing middle” housing that you can’t find in the rest of the city because it was all constructed before duplexes, internal conversions, etc were banned mid-century. I think the neighborhood you wanted to refer to was Eastmoreland. I should also note that come fall, the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood will be host to Right 2 Dream Too, one of the only city-sanctioned homeless camps, and the Central Eastside–which abuts Ladd’s Addition–is currently the site of more tents than anywhere in the city (between the Willamette and 82nd at any rate). That part of town is bearing its share and then some.
Well, let’s be real here, a little bit of missing middle housing sprinkled among a sea of single-family homes just doesn’t get Ladd’s Addition to be that dense. It’s notably less dense population-wise than the adjoining areas to the north, south, and east. http://projects.oregonlive.com/maps/density/
But yes, the CEID is certainly hosting its share of houseless people.
Good luck finding a developer ready to tear down a row of $700k houses to build low-rise condos.
The zoning doesn’t allow it, but that’s irrelevant. Nobody’s going to do it anyway. If and when it becomes economically feasible, expect a zoning change.
In the meantime, what’s the point of demonizing people for having money, and choosing to live in these areas?
Somehow, cities that “grew up” before the advent of exclusionary zoning, parking minimums, height restrictions, and floor-area minimums managed to redevelop the areas within two miles of downtown, even if they were once filled with the single-family homes of the wealthy. The economics work out if mid-rise multifamily is allowed – $700,000 split 30 ways is not that much.
Sorry, which city has these $23K condos?
Alex may have been talking about the cost of land, not counting the cost of the structures on the land.
Well, in any event, this may increase developer profits, but is unlikely to bring down rents/prices.
Developer profits? If a developer buys a lot, then gets the city to change the zoning/give them an exception, then yes. That developer would get a profit. Let’s call that kind of developer a land speculator. Assuming the new zoning/exception is transferable, they wouldn’t have to ‘develop’ anything. Let’s call the person on the other side of development a builder. The land speculator would have bought land for 23k a unit (number from above, I wrote 35 below, add in some smaller units and it could get down to 23) when the price of housing might mean the land is worth twice as much if not more. If instead the city rezones a block, and then the current residents who have lived there for a couple decades decide to sell would they sell at today’s price? Or the higher price that comes with the rezoning? They would get the profit from the rezoning, not the builder they sell to. Profits in building can be pretty slim. Sure they expect money when they build something, but it’s not a windfall. That goes to the person with land. And yes, sometimes the builder and the land speculator are the same person.
Say the city decided that the historical preservation of the character of Ladd’s addition is not worth driving up housing prices, and the area would be rezoned overnight for a FAR of 3 – think the recently built cook street apartments between Vancouver and Williams – in an attempt to drive down the price of housing. Area is 126 acres, figure parks and streets take up (or will take up) half. That leaves room for ~8200 modest family apartments (1000 square feet). 15-20k people vs 1300 today. Can Portland’s housing market absorb that much construction with no impact on prices? New permits for housing in the entire metro area totaled ~14k last year, about half in multi family housing. Maybe it could. Go bigger and cover every lot zoned single family within five miles of pioneer square, ignore the west hills if it’s too hard to build there/provide transportation infrastructure. Would per unit prices/rents stay as high as they are? Demand for housing in inner Portland is high, but it’s not infinite.
So maybe existing owners will get a big chunk of the profits. The point is housing prices will not fall as a result.
I am not among those that thinks we can outbuild the induced demand of having the cheapest housing on the west coast, or that it will benefit the city in the long-run to try, any more than it makes sense to try building roads to keep up with travel demand.
It was not “the city” that decided to preserve Ladd’s as a historical district, it was residents, which is appropriate. I generally believe in making decisions at the most local level possible, and that residents should have considerable say over how their neighborhoods are developed. I know those who want to impose their will on others will probably disagree.
>I know those who want to impose their will on others will probably disagree.
Those who want to impose their will on others will disagree with the way you want to impose your will on your neighbors if the first group wants dense housing and you don’t, yes.
>It was not “the city” that decided to preserve Ladd’s as a historical district, it was residents
How so? By petitioning the city to block development? Petitioning for listing in a national register that offers no protections from redevelopment in the absence of state and local (city/county/town etc…) laws? Did every single property owner in Ladd’s agree to sign a deed covenant obliging anyone they sell to not to develop the property beyond what was already there?
>most local level possible
Wouldn’t that be letting people do what they want with their property? If you’re right that no amount of development would ever bring down prices then the price of land would skyrocket if development restrictions were removed. In which case the only thing stopping a homeowner in Ladd’s from throwing up a big apartment building at great profit to themselves is the city forcing them not to.
That’s how this thread started remember.
>Good luck finding a developer ready to tear down a row of $700k houses to build low-rise condos.
>The zoning doesn’t allow it, but that’s irrelevant. Nobody’s going to do it anyway. If and when it becomes economically feasible, expect a zoning change.
The claim that zoning wasn’t what was preventing the redevelopment of rich single family housing areas, with Ladd’s addition mentioned specifically.
My point is that it is absolutely economically feasible. Development restrictions (people imposing their will on others in your parlance) are the only reason it hasn’t happened already.
Yes, of my neighbors jointly decided they wanted different zoning rules, I’d go along. If you can convince the people of Ladd’s to change their historic designation, it could probably be changed. I don’t know why all those rich people don’t want to get richer.
You’re going to need multiple lots for 23 units right? 700 x 4 (I’m guessing)
I’m not going to discuss housing policy with you though, since you’re just trying to be punitive with the construction.
Take a few lots.
Build with a floor area ratio of 3. A lot of new apartments in Portland have EX zoning, maximum FAR of 3.
Zillow prices them combined at 6.546 million. Lots total 60k area. That’s room for 180k square feet of building. Modest family home could be 1000 square feet. This is room for 180 families. 6.546 million/180 units = $36k per unit for land. Maybe a bit fewer with ground floor retail, Iet’s waive over that and assume retail doesn’t need to be subsidized by the apartments. With permits and construction homes here could be $200-250k to build. Some could be one bedrooms, half the size, half the price. 500 square feet for $100-125k. Not affordable for people camping along the springwater corridor, but it is affordable for a lot of people getting priced out of inner Portland.
And yet the developer will still rent them for $1800 per month, so maybe not so affordable after all.
For one project, yes. Scale it up and allow that everywhere? I doubt it.
I think I see these areas as the clearest symbols of “government by the rich, for the rich” in Portland. It’s not the average person who lives there that angers me, it’s the overall societal dynamic that ends up with them getting way better/more elite-friendly government services they get that East Portland doesn’t that’s galling. The exclusionary zoning, the beautiful parks, the freaking City-owned golf courses(??), the near-total exclusion of homeless people, the relatively smooth roads, the nice greenways, the presence of sidewalks, and the mostly non-deadly roads. Every time I bike from my bumpy, sidewalk less road in East Portland, past homeless folks under the 205 underpass and along the path, to one of our only greenways, back to a non-greenway because they don’t connect across 82nd, down smoother but still bumpy streets in FoPo with an occasional homeless person every few weeks, to the bumpy greenways there, and finally to the nice smooth beautiful greenway on Clinton where I have never seen anyone homeless and the beautiful Eastbank esplanade, I see a pattern of investment and non-investment over decades. And the people who made it happen (City Council members) mostly lived in places like the West Hills, Irvingtkn, Eastmoreland, Ladd’s, Alameda, etc.
Amen to that Alex! Is it any wonder there is (was?) a movement for places like Parkrose to de-annex from Portland?
its a past time here on bikeportland.org. as if working hard, educating yourself, and experiencing a little luck is somehow a bad thing now for all the lower income transplants of Portland.
As long as we’re wishing… I’d rather hear that they got a job and moved themselves out.
And yes, that likely involves finding a more affordable part of the country to live in.
Because that’s totally something who’s living in a tent in the woods has the resources to do.
They can research jobs nationwide, narrow the list to a manageable number of suitable candidate jobs and towns based on all necessary criteria, apply and be accepted sight unseen, and move everything they own (or at least need) halfway across the country in time to hit a promised start date for a job that will definitely still be waiting for them on arrival in a town where they have no home and no support network.
That is obviously something we should demand of them, as there are no barriers whatsoever preventing them from doing that.
I’m going to hurt my eyes if I roll them any harder.
So even as a stretch goal, you see it as entirely unrealistic that these people would be capable of taking care of themselves?
None of them?
You believe that the ones that can haven’t done so and instead choose to be homeless?
Nevermind that somewhere between 25 and 50% of the homeless in this country already have jobs.
Yeah, I do believe there are some that choose to be homeless.
Don’t you think it’s a serious problem that even people with jobs can’t afford housing in Portland?
Not in such a cut and dry way, no.
I would like to see people who work a full time job get paid enough to live in the area (region).
At the same time, when I think about where I’m going to live, the first thing I check is housing prices and cost of living. There were multiple places I would consider living, but I decided that I couldn’t afford it. My reaction to that thought process was “oh well”, not “they should fix that”.
I realize discussing having a choice opens me to criticism around here, but twenty years ago when I was working in a turkey processing plant, building cabinets or working on a hog farm, all for next to nothing, I still had the same process. Where can I afford to live. In my case, that was an old mobile home in the country.
I do not think you can solve this in a big(ish) city with housing policy. If you waved a magic wand and cut rents in half tomorrow, people would flood into town. People who haven’t come here because they couldn’t previously afford it.
When I say perhaps a person should live somewhere more affordable, I feel like I’m being realistic, not classist or exclusionary.
But isn’t housing (under your terms, at your price, in the location of your choosing) a human right?
What, if anything, should we demand from them?
FYI, as I’ve said before, anyone with a pulse and a work ethic can easily find work in the construction industry. Even Labor Ready is short on people. Not sure a national search is really needed.
How about a pulse and a meth problem? Many of these people are not currently employable.
Your perspective of their (not all of them,but many) situation is clouded by the things you just take for granted. Even construction work demands a certain level of personal grooming and showering that’s a big hurdle to overcome for many. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s not an abundance of places for a homeless person to clean themselves up. Secondly, how long do you think a person who’s undernourished is going to be able to dig a trench by hand or hump shingles up on a roof? Most employers demand proof of residence and A LOT in the construction industry also want you to own a car, aka “reliable transportation, not near a bus line”. Probably not legal but it’s there. And the biggest hurdle of them all. You and I leave for a job in the morning ( or whenever) and our “stuff” is safe behind a locked door. Not their “stuff” and in their case it’s things they need to not die at times. Could you imagine leaving your camp on a cold winter day and coming back to your tent and sleeping bag being stolen? What then? Spend all night trying to find shelter. I’m sure you’d be ready to go swing a pick all day next morning.
So no, it’s not just “that easy” to go get a job in the construction industry.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find an “undernourished” camper in Portland. From first-(homeless) person accounts (WW, The Oregonian, OPB), it’s widely acknowledged free food is fairly easy to be had in Portland. In some cases, very good food indeed (see link below). If you mean undernourished because of drug addiction, that’s another matter.
Nobody says it would be easy. It never is, to pull yourself out of difficulties, whether of your own making or not. But a significant part of the impetus to change involves (esp. w/ drug users) recognizing personal responsibility for your life–and I’m not referring to severely mentally ill folks, here, of course. When you make excuses for and enable the behavior of antisocial jerks–and don’t deny we have a fair share of those in Portland, witness the vandalism, threats and crime uptick–you are helping no one, most esp. not them.
That’s right James. It’s not easy. People need to have at least some level of motivation. You also may have missed where I qualified it by saying that a work ethic was required.
many of them could put the drugs down – as a good first decision.
Yeah, let’s ignore science and go back to considering addiction a moral weakness instead of a treatable mental illness. Then we can feel free to hate addicts without any of that annoying guilt.
Maybe we can even throw them all in prison so we can pay them pennies a day to make cheap consumer goods. Oh, wait…
Nobody’s hating anyone. Just pointing out the personal responsibility involved.
Build a wall!
It’s about f’n time that mess gets cleaned up! I am glad to see this 6-month experiment coming to an end in August. I would like to see a retrospect performed on this experiment. And a report on what was learned, vs what was expected. Basically, the same things that were done when I would perform experiments in physics class back in the college days. Seems like this “experiment” was not much of a real experiment at all.
Where do they go Mayor Hales? This is the equivalent of sweeping the house and then not using a dustpan to relocate the dust bunnies into an acceptable location. Just spread them around some more, that’ll do.
Only the dust bunnies in my house are not threatening me, blocking me, harassing me, demanding money from me or pooping on my floors. Not yet, anyway.
It will be nice that this path can be used again by thousands of people each week for recreation, as it was intended.
This is a good thing for bicycle paths. As long as this bicycle path is constantly in the news as a magnet for lawlessness the odds of other bicycle paths being built in the area diminish. My wife used to commute on the Springwater. If it becomes safe again maybe she will be able to ride it in the future. People who use bicycles as transportation and the neighbors should not have to put up with what has happened along the Springwater. It is not up to those 2 groups to solve the homeless issue.
Wow, I’m glad we are off the hook for having compassion for our fellow humans, as long as we ride bikes or own property along the route. There are plenty of other people left who can fix this, for sure!
There’s a word for this kind of thinking: it starts with an N, and it’s usually set in all caps.
I have compassion, but I’m not content with abandonment of a transportation/recreation corridor as a solution to homelessness. I also used to commute on the Springwater Corridor. The Springwater Corridor would have been a good route for my kids to ride to school, but we didn’t feel comfortable with letting them do that. Even as a reasonably fit male, I didn’t feel comfortable riding the Springwater Corridor unless I was with a group. My compassion is limited by my concerns for my personal safety and that of my family. If you have a different threshold, great! Maybe my compassion exceeds yours in other areas, or maybe you are just a better person.
Hear, hear, J_R. It is a popular thing these days, to advertise one’s compassion. Lots of “likes” for that. The most compassionate folks I know are the ones who are quiet about it.
This is why I dislike the term “NIMBY”. Someone raises a valid point, but because they use the area (it used to be “live in” the area, but apparently now people who use an area are now also NIMBY-eligible) their concern is dismissed by labeling them NIMBYs and ending the discussion–and the thinking. Then they become fair game for accusations such as telling them they feel “off the hook for having compassion for our fellow humans”.
I share Jon’s concern, but I don’t live near the trail, and don’t use it, either. So is the concern valid now?
As far as I can tell, people trot out NIMBY when they get frustrated that they don’t have any compelling arguments.
And you have how many homeless people camping in your backyard, exactly?
Good point. If the trail to LO on the rail r.o.w. is pursued, people in Dunthorpe who’ve opposed it in the past due to crime concerns can bring up Springwater, and they’ll have a valid point.
I am concerned we are just pushing the problem elsewhere instead of addressing the root cause of homelessness or addressing the needs of people living outside.
Your concern is duly noted. Could you tell us what the “root” cause is?
There is no “root” cause, there are many causes, which is why there isn’t a single solution.
Solutions for homeless families with children appear to be working, but we fail on helping those mental health and addiction issues.
Rising housing costs, wage stagnation, lack of social services such as drug addiction treatments and mental health care, racism and classism, a society that values jail time over rehabilitation, overbearing law enforcement, a broken legal system, the failed war on drugs, and let’s throw in an anti-social anti-tax American culture for good measure.
People aren’t joking when they say “homelessness is a complicated issue”.
That is a lot of stuff to address. Can we just clean up the Springwater first?
The first step should have been finding somewhere for them to go. Kicking them out without providing an alternative does no good.
No, the first step should have been to not allow any camping in city parks to begin with.
How do you do that? Arrest people who are camping? Then what? Put them in jail? Slap them with fines and legal fees they have no hope of paying back? Give them a criminal record for having outstanding fees that can prevent them from getting a job later down the line, thus ensuring they remain homeless? Repeat and rinse.
Criminalizing homelessness is a major cause of our homeless problems. Allowing camping in public spaces is the better approach, however imperfect it may be.
Should people be arrested for littering? for dumping trash? for trashing an environmental fragile area?
Why bother…..What good will it do?
What laws should be enforced? Can you give us a list?
Broken windows policing does not work.
“Broken windows policing does not work.”
Women have been raped along Springwater, people have been threatened with knives, Campers have shot one another, dangerous fires have been set.
Your dismissiveness of this as just “broken windows” is so flippant….
Which is clearly not the same thing as assaults or knife attacks which are serious issues that clearly need to be addressed.
So you apparently have no idea what the concept of “broken window” policing is…..
Kicking them out does do a lot of good. It restores a modicum of stability to a low-income neighborhood with a high concentration of (housed) protected classes. It restores access to natural areas and a recreational facility for people that can’t afford to drive to these amenities or pay for a gym membership. It removes a huge burden from the nearby neighborhood of subsidize (through loss of property due to theft and loss of free time spent cleaning up after others) the lifestyle of people who really need to be receiving services. And, dispersing the unhoused people removes the ability of traffickers and other predatory folks to have easy access to a concentrated market.
I second that.
I thought they could go to your house.
Oh those causes? The nebulous bs that you can blame me for? Where will they go? How about Umatilla? Rent is cheaper there. I don’t care anymore where they go. JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE ELSE, would be ok with me.
Call them what they are. A bunch of lazy bums that think the world owes them a living. Who honestly think any of these “campers” are honestly trying to function in our society? How about the nonsensical statistic that 25-50% are working. Well if that’s true, then they should pool up and rent a place some where.
How about we just quit lying about the noble camper. They are lazy bums that have largely made themselves unable to function, by their choices. I AM OUT OF EMPATHY FOR THIS BUNCH. They are not victims and allowing them to camp isn’t helping them it’s enabling them.
Arrest them and sentence them to drug court. Rig up some sort of WPA project and put them to work. Something like a chain gang without the chain. Anybody see “Cool Hand Luke”? Maybe you could put them to work cleaning up the damage their cohorts do in places like the Stillwater.
Assuming all you said is true–they’re lazy bums, etc.–and then you do arrest them, then what? I know you answered–send them to Umatilla, put them to work on a WPA-type project–but those options aren’t set up yet. Maybe they should be (or not) but they’re not.
So, we’re still in a position where you kick them out of one place, they’ll pop up somewhere else. And it won’t be Umatilla, it will be a recreation of “Stillwater”, a mile or two away.
The irony is that that’s exactly what the people you’re arguing with have been saying.
This is the first step in addressing those needs isn’t it? Moving them out of an area where they are destroying natural resources that are severely impacting other tax-paying, voting, law-abiding citizens. Next step will be to get (those who want them) them services, living accommodations, or a nice jail bed if they want to be criminals.
I’ve been volunteering at the Clackamas Service Center for a couple of years; the center provides a line to services…for folks who want it. We also give folks hot meals and dignity that all people deserve.
I’ll be there Saturday night – this news will cause a big uptick in folks coming in (and as we get closer to the end of the month, more come in because SNAP and SSI benefits peter out until the first).
Additional hands will be needed. You should come….you seem to have a lot of concern and spare time on your hands. I’m putting your name down. See you at 5:30!
I’m actually busy tonight, so I donated a food box instead. Happy to help out.
Read: “I have empathy (as long as) the problem is(n’t) right in my face.”
Read: I have more “progressive” clichés than you can shake a stick at, but so little time…..
Adam, do you ever start typing and NOT hit send? Perhaps it is time you take a break.
Wait, you can do that?
Adam–the first comment on this article asked the question most people are wondering–where are there people going to relocate? The fact that that’s a question, and everyone who’s realistic knows the answer is somewhere else that isn’t real housing (and probably is just another spot outdoors that they’ll get kicked out from next) proves how valid your point is.
As part of Lents Food Not Bombs, I’ve been bringing food and water to people along the trail for 9 months. These people are mostly troubled & have no place else to go. Hales is simply trying to sweep a problem under the rug without offering a proper solution. He created this mess w/ predatory real estate.
I agree that the ecological aspect is deeply worrisome to me, but I’d rather offer help then criminalize the desperate.
I would rather see them off the trail to start with where they will not cause the problems they have been causing for other. Then go from there. 1 step at a time. Maybe the results of the 6-month safe sleep experiment Charlie decided to run will help drive a solution. I’m sure that’s why he began the experiment in the first place…to gather some data that will be key in creating a sustainable solution to solve this ongoing problem.
Methinks you give Hizzoner a little too much credit for long-term thinking. This was not an “experiment”, it was a white flag being waved by a beleaguered, unpopular, one-term Mayor throwing up his hands and waiting for his term to end. The only reason he’s doing this is to make it look like he’s doing SOMEthing, which in point of fact he can’t really do at all. No mayor can in this economic and political climate.
How far apart must the ‘camps of six’ be from each other? Ten feet? A hundred? A mile or more? And why? To keep the houseless from sharing knowledge and/or organizing? Or to limit the eyesore of reality?
When all the apps are coded, and all the middle managers laid off, the proverbial bottom will become new Portlands normal.
Get used to it.
The Oregonian’s series on the homeless last year, which Isreal Bayer was a part of, said $1 billion would be needed to house the homeless who are here now (3,000 – 4,000 people).
The upcoming $250 million bond measure will provide 1,300 affordable units with a current need for 24,000.
The total cost is over $5 billion. It’s not going to happen.
The best idea so far is the Haven for Hope model: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2016/06/portland_developers_pitch_100.html
But as with all shelters it has rules. And the problems with the behavior of some of the homeless will still have to be addressed.
many here are saying this is a homeless problem, but it’s clearly a criminal problem…
they wouldn’t be getting kicked out if they were smiling while singing songs and roasting marshmallows when people passed by instead of threatening and assaulting them…
the nice campers are likely really peeved that they have to move due to the criminals… much like laws passed for bad drivers than end up effecting cyclists it’s an unfortunate side effect…
Hear, hear, Spiffy. And no one’s calling the homeless, en masse, criminals, for gud’s sake: they’re calling criminals, criminals. And we want them dealt with. This may be a national problem and yes–it absolutely does require federal funding and attention. But Portland’s superior services and lenient policies led to the huge influx of campers we have here. Why on earth can’t we/homeless advocates and agencies institute some rules and enforce them? For every conspicuously compassionate person here I suggest one of the most compassionate things you could actually do is to tell these folks you’re feeding and supplying (and, I’m assuming, getting to know) that they have to ditch the laying waste to our public spaces, right quick, and stop preying on the community. And I refer to the significant number who fit that description–not all homeless, so please spare me the invective.
“…many here are saying this is a homeless problem, but it’s clearly a criminal problem…” spiffy
I think poor character of the camps is at least partly due to criminality. If the camps were to have at least basic, serviceable infrastructure such as clean water access and sanitary waste disposal, that would make them safer to live in marginally, as camping full time in the city tends to be…but the very bad behavior of some of the camp residents, seems to likely be, more than any other thing, what has pushed the city and mayor, to finally move to get rid of the camps.
Had the camps been mostly clean, and the behavior of the residents congenial rather than threatening, the Springwater camps may have continued on for a lot longer than they have, with far less objection from people that have jobs and places to live.
>the nice campers are likely really peeved that they have to move due to the criminals…
The homeless community must police their own just as the cyclist community must police their own.
Plenty of room for lower-impact camping, even tiny houses. Borrow a lane of SE Powell and/or McLoughlin or two parking spots off every 8th block… near the biketown racks? We’re supposed to be discouraging auto use and solving the housing crisis. Many very able-bodied Portlanders could easily help by riding a bike with a fraction of the effort they’ve been using to whine about parking.
Plenty of parking lots along Powell that could provide space as well.
why not convert bike corrals?
How many are public property?
Giving drug addicts free housing, “no rules!” is a recipe for (further) disaster. You’ve seen the results of enabling drug addicts, on the Springwater and elsewhere. I grew up among drug addicts. This is not how you help them.
Correct. The right approach is to give addicts free housing, free access to safer pharmaceutical grade drugs, safe places to consume those drugs, and ready and nearby counseling for those wanting to get off the drugs.
At least, that’s what cities that have tried such programs have found; rates of death from overdoses, crime associated with drug use and even the rate of consumption itself drops in these programs.
Yes–I’m all for increasing services for addicts and the mentally ill. I am specifically for programs for addicts that prioritize getting off the drugs.
plus they actually save money by doing it that way
The big victor here is local news. They created the narrative around Springwater and residents held up signs. Also, shows that the City government has no real plan for homelessness just reacting not leading.
You’ve basically just described out entire governmental process.
If we legalized back yard tiny homes as rentals I think many private home owners would jump at offering additional housing.
Maybe we could call them ADUs!
You can only live in an RV at one location legally – and most tiny homes are basically RVs – for something like 2 weeks at a time.
It would be interesting to see them move in mass to a couple of schoolyards, just to see how the conversation played out.
It would be nice to see the bill to the taxpayers for policing and incarcerating camp residents, the lost tax revenue for any campers with jobs that lose them due to the relocation crisis, the unpaid ER visits from exposure and the cleanup costs for restoring the park after the evictions.
I’d be willing to bet that bill is higher than just providing every camper with a studio apartment rent-free. It’s a pretty sure bet if Utah’s study on the subject is anything like Oregon’s.
“In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000.”
While that might pencil out, on a practical level, finding available units for an infinite number of people and fully subsidizing them in a market that’s hovering around 3% vacancy might be challenging.
Even if you could make it work, removing those units from the open market will only drive the market rate rents further up, which will lead to even more people needing to be subsidized.
Doesn’t seem to be too sustainable.
There are about 4,000 homeless people, total, in the portland metro area, and that’s counting those staying at shelters and those only temporarily homeless. 4,000 is a lot less than infinity. Of these homeless people, most can’t afford to pay market rate for housing. (Not all are jobless, however.)
About 30,000 people move into the area every year. Most of these people can afford to pay for housing, and a large portion of them have the means to pay more than market rate for housing due to moving from more expensive areas.
I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out which group is driving up housing demand the most.
But the housing crisis is not really a demand problem, it is a supply problem. Even if the free market were not a terribly unfair way to distribute an essential public good like shelter, the supply side incentives are far too skewed to be considered ‘free’. Parking requirements basically mean the city would rather see a developer not build a housing unit than build one without parking. Skewed taxes (property, income and capital gains) incentivize developers to build only high-end condos while ignoring those in need. NIMBYs of the past screwed up the building code to disallow tried and true forms of profitable cheap housing. Etc, etc.
If we had the will, we could house every homeless person in the city and lower our own taxes in the process.
That’s an awful lot of vagueness for one post.
Have you been out amongst the homeless? Do you really think that their main problem is lack of affordable housing? The vast majority can afford absolutely no rent.
They need mental health treatment, medication, drug treatment, and some of them, arrest and imprisonment.
If you’d read the entire thread, you’d have noticed that I’m not advocating for affordable housing for the homeless. I am advocating for free housing for the homeless. The post you replied to was be defending this position against the assertion that it would drive up the price of housing, which is nonsense.
can we bill you for the construction costs and annual maintenance?
Yes. You’re already billing me for the policing and jailing of the homeless, which is more expensive than housing them. So please bill me for housing them instead so I can save some money.
George–it seems like you’re focusing too much on solutions rather than punishment!
George, this is the conversation we really need to be having. Shelter is a basic human right. These are our fellow humans and they need our help no matter how they arrived at homelessness.
Preferably a decision made at the federal level.
Any one city is just bailing water on the titanic.
Utah did it back in 2005, and has seen a 75% reduction in homelessness (as of 2013) as a result.
That is NOT accurate. Please take 5 minutes to check your facts before posting
Utah has reduced the number of “chronically homeless” by 91%. Chronically homeless means a person who has been living on the street for multiple years and has a disabling condition which can be addiction, mental illness, etc. That is about 20% of the total homeless population. Utah had about 2,000 chronically homeless, now they have about 200 chronically homeless. Utah still has the other 80% of its homeless population, about 14,000. So actually Utah has reduced its homeless population by about 12%.
Portland has about 1000 “chronically homeless” out of about 2000 total homeless by which I mean literally unsheltered (the narrowest definition of homeless). For some reason, in our city the chronically homeless is a much higher percent of total homeless (48%) than it is nationally (20%).
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/phb/index.cfm?&a=532833 see Page 28
The proposed $250MM city bond, that is promised to pay for 1000 units of housing, could potentially provide enough housing for all or almost all of our chronically homeless. I support doing this. The chronically homeless are people who are simply unable to be self supporting. Sometimes they became so due to poor choices, sometimes not, but it doesn’t really make a practical difference by this point in their lives. Sometimes they can be “cured” and become self supporting again, often they cannot. Whatever the situation, they are people that we as a society need to care for, just as we need to care for our other vulnerable and wounded people.
We would still have around 1000 homeless people on our streets. That number could grow, because a part of the homeless population is mobile. So a lot of work would remain to be done.
Don’t lump me in with people who argue without citations or pull facts from their asses. Given that I provided a link, I clearly spent five minutes checking my facts. It’s not my fault if several journalists, who, unlike me, are paid to do fact checking, got it wrong.
Even if the figures are wrong, the figures you provided still back my basic argument, so I’m not sure what goal you had with your angry correction.
that’s also a faith based program. we just don’t have that many Mormons here it turns out.
…and as any recovered drug addict will tell you, true effective “help” comes in a form more uncomfortable and tough than this prevailing misty idea in Portland of just handing everyone a free house–“no judging.”
That photo in the O this morning of porta-potties set down right on the edge of the SWT in Lents (I assume this was near the I-205 trail junction) certainly must have stunned a lot of people. Let’s see if Hales follows thru, and how long it takes to have everybody drift right back into place along the SWT – likely right before the election.
great. they can join the campers on the Peninsula Crossing trail.
I ride thru those areas about 3X/wk. Lately there have been changes among the “campers” . There are many more women. Still few Asians/Blacks. No children (despite the displaced families narratives).
In past discussions here on BP , I’ve been rather compassionate towards their problems, but have hardened lately.
Dodging poop, shopping carts and groups that won’t let you pass has taken it’s toll , as has drugged out campers stumbling out of the brushes, not looking, straight in front of me …necessitating hard stops.
Timing seems funny ??? Hood to Coast coming up… Say it ain’t so, Charlie.
Relocating to the old Hansen building on 122nd & Glisan ?? News reports say that building has no heat in the winter and the basement is blocked off because of mold. Bad smells too.
Wouldn’t that be ironic … campers suing the city for putting them in an uninhabitable building* ????
*according to the PPD , who were happy to bail out of there.
Now the tech companies are saying Internet access is also a basic right. Gimme a break. 🙁
Great! Please take a break from the internet for a couple years and let us know how that worked out for you.
Some people prefer a life without the internet. Seems strange to lump it in with food, water, air…
Shelter as a human right doesn’t seem controversial to me. What needs are more basic or important than shelter? Not many.
Whether some people think internet access is a basic right doesn’t affect whether shelter is. And a lot of the reasoning behind internet access being a basic right has to do with political freedom, ability to assemble and communicate, and access to knowledge and resources. Those arguments have a lot more merit to me than any that say shelter is NOT a basic right.
Plus, whether or not shelter’s a right, any long term solutions to homeless issues are going to involve providing shelter to those who want it. So from a pragmatic standpoint, labeling it a right or not isn’t that important to me.
Please help me to understand your position a little better ?
Why do you have this feeling that shelter is a basic right ? Is this written somewhere, or just an application of compassion ?
So, is it just shelter or is food provided ? Is a job a basic right ? Is an education ? Where does it all end ? And who does the deciding ?
Is this a US thing or worldwide ? When did it all start ? Is this some extension of BernieThink ? Basic means everybody, worldwide ?
I’m obviously confused on all this, please respond with an explanation, so I can come around to your viewpoint/feelings.
Since people cannot survive without shelter, shelter should be a viewed as a basic right.
I don’t care if you come around to my viewpoint or not.
>Why do you have this feeling that shelter is a basic right ? Is this written somewhere…?
It’s written many places. To take one example, Article 25 of the universal declaration of human rights adopted by the UN general assembly in 1948.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Housing being the key term there.
Right to education is covered in article 26.
The United States was among the countries voting in favor.
An even more familiar place it appears is in the Declaration of Independence’s “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, since shelter is a basic need for survival, so without shelter, there is no “life”. I also doubt “life” was placed before liberty and the pursuit of happiness arbitrarily.
There’ve been lots of lists and definitions of basic human rights over time, and I’d guess all start with survival needs as their foundation, since without those, other rights are meaningless.
I rode SWMUP yesterday. Someone had knocked over one of those porta-potties and there was a huge brown, stinky stain all over the trail.
Also last week, there was a news story about the auto business (right at 92nd & SW). They had been cleaning up the garbage on the trail adjacent to their property.
Until they received a “cease & desist” notice with fine threats. letter said that was CoP’s job and the business could not do it.
About that cease & desist order from PDX to businesses and other locals trying to help clean up the mess on the SWT: if the city code prohibits that, change it! Community support for keeping our ped / bike trails should be ‘encouraged,’ not ‘discouraged.’ That may be, unintentionally, making things worse, not better. Same goes for guide signs, which, as I mentioned on another thread a few days back, aren’t very common on the SWT as well. Picking up the garbage along the trail should be a community effort, like those adopt-a-street programs we see signed on streets and roads all the time. Maybe we should have adopt-a-trail programs along similiar lines.
Is shelter a basic human right when the shelter someone insists on is an illegally pitched tent in a public park? Many of these people on the trail reject living in shelters.
I don’t think not getting your preferred style of housing should mean you’re allowed to break the law.
I don’t think anyone is saying that.
I think that’s exactly what many people here on this blog are saying.
I think you’re misunderstanding what many people are saying.
“…not getting your preferred style of housing should mean you’re allowed to break the law”? Who is saying that?
There have been several people posting on this thread who appear to think homeless people are justified in camping on public property, whatever their reasons – which in many cases include not wanting to follow anybody’s rules.
A lot of times it’s addressed passively with ‘but where will they go?’ which basically means ‘we shouldn’t move them because they have nowhere to go.’
That’s an amazingly disingenuous characterization of that argument. Almost everybody who has asked where these people will go are fine with reclaiming the trail for use by bicyclists and pedestrians. Almost everybody who has asked that question legitimately wants an answer; breaking up the camp is not a solution, it is just making the problem move somewhere else.
Meanwhile, the city is fine with spending $26 million on housing for cars.
Is it at least housing for low income cars?
Those cars are spending money.
On the internet, no one knows you’re a car
Solution to what?
It’s a perfectly good solution to a trail being clogged with squatters.
“A lot of times it’s addressed passively with ‘but where will they go?’ which basically means ‘we shouldn’t move them because they have nowhere to go.’ ” ???
That’s not what that means for me, or I’m sure for many that have brought up “where will they go”. It’s pragmatic. Kicking people out of Springwater without addressing why they’re there means the problems of Springwater will just move to one future location after another.
And if the problem isn’t lack of shelter beds, but of people choosing not to go to available shelters, then that’s a problem that needs to be addressed, too.
And believing any of that is not the same as believing people are justified in breaking the law, or believing Springwater shouldn’t be cleaned up. Some people may feel that way, others do not.
Well, Angel is, for one-
“Angel July 17, 2016 at 12:12 am
A few stray thoughts:
– I was pleased to see the mayor distinguishing between public safety concerns and actual public safety concerns. I think that’s an important distinction.
– I used to work at a shelter. The rules were extremely restrictive. I can totally understand how some people might choose a tent over a shelter. Seriously. You had to be at the shelter by 6pm each night, and able to play well with others when living in close quarters. And sober. And out by 8am every morning, at the latest. No access to the (shared) bedroom during the day. And get signed off on doing a chore. And so forth. Shelters are a partial answer at best.
Then there’s this guy, quoted in a story at the Oregonian-
“Raymond Drennen, one of about eight people who were at the campsite on Friday, said outreach workers arrived late this week with offers to help campers find a place to go. He’s not interested in shelters.”
“I don’t want to be around a bunch of people,” Drennen said. “I don’t like it. I kind of like to be by myself.””
“Shelters are a partial answer at best” is a far cry from “people who don’t want to stay in shelters should be allowed to camp on public land.”
If you can’t see a third option, I suggest switching from monochrome to grayscale. It’ll be a little shocking at first, but once you get used to it you can work up to actual colors.
This is BikePortland… everything is black and white, and every problem has a simple answer, which usually amounts too removing parking or building more apartments.
This raises an interesting question: how far should the city go in providing housing/shelter options that cater to individual preferences? I do think where we can we should, but certainly there must be a line somewhere?
One way to help decide where the line should be could be to look at how many people are deciding to go into shelters/housing instead of camping. I guess it also depends how important it is to get people away from camping–how important is it to help them? and how important is it to reduce camping so as to limit its negative impacts on others?
dan–you claim “that’s exactly what many people here on this blog are saying” and when I dispute it, you give two examples–one a quote from someone completely outside this forum, and another that hadn’t even been written until after you made your assertion. On top of that, that example didn’t say what you claimed, anyway.
hmm, maybe we could round up some of the HUINDREDS of stolen bikes to help pay for their housing! the number of bikes is ridiculous!
A few stray thoughts:
– I was pleased to see the mayor distinguishing between public safety concerns and actual public safety concerns. I think that’s an important distinction.
– I used to work at a shelter. The rules were extremely restrictive. I can totally understand how some people might choose a tent over a shelter. Seriously. You had to be at the shelter by 6pm each night, and able to play well with others when living in close quarters. And sober. And out by 8am every morning, at the latest. No access to the (shared) bedroom during the day. And get signed off on doing a chore. And so forth. Shelters are a partial answer at best.
– COMPASSION. Compassion, compassion, compassion. Compassion? Compassion!
And not everyone was able to stay in the shelter even if they wanted to. In addition to the full beds (which were gender-based, no kids or pets allowed), there was also the “do we believe you’re capable right now of keeping track of and following all these rules?” element.
I think all of this seems reasonable when you’re living on someone else’s money. I’ve had to do this several times in my life, and I ‘paid’ for the favor by doing chores and following the house rules, so I didn’t disrupt the lives of the people who were helping me out (or the other people they were helping out). If you’re not paying your own living expenses, why should you expect to be able to have everything your own way? I don’t think I would have questioned their right to tell me I couldn’t bring a dog into the free housing they were offering me. Imagine a shelter trying to accommodate the aggressive dogs homeless people tend to acquire for protection – who’s going to manage all those dogs, keep them from fighting, pay for their food, etc.?
Also, there are shelters that take families and couples. It’s actually important to give these folks their own space separate from the single dude crowd, just like it’s important to give women a shelter separate from men.
I agree there aren’t enough shelter beds, for sure – but the thing that always seems to be lost sight of in this discussion is what people should be able to expect when they are living off other people, contributing nothing. It’s not compassionate to let other people walk all over you, no matter how messed up they are.
I understand your points, but I’m not sure they’re that relevant as far as solutions go.
For instance, I’m sure homeless people with dogs can understand why shelters would prohibit dogs. But it’s not surprising that many would choose camping over giving up their pets. If they’re selfish or unreasonable for feeling that way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re still going to camp. So kicking them out of Springwater means they’ll be camping somewhere else next.
And of course people commenting here are aware that people who are not paying for their own housing shouldn’t be choosy. But even if they’re totally, unreasonable choosy, and even if that’s entirely because they are selfish jerks (I’m not saying that’s true), if nobody addresses how to get them to accept alternatives to camping in places like Springwater, then the problems will just move to other locations.
Having lived here all my life, I can tell you that Portland’s homeless population of the past traveled much more lightly. A backpack, a few things. The camps along the Springwater and elsewhere are now filled with stuff, and pets. Because of current Portland policy, people have felt emboldened to literally set up house on the streets/paths and in parks, with tons of crap. This mentality, and the sense of entitlement that seems to have come with it, did not exist here until very recently. I see it as problematic for several (obvious) reasons, one being that it removes incentive to get OFF the streets and into housing.
Yes, that’s what I was saying also–that even if the reasons people are camping on public land and rejecting shelters is that they are selfish jerks, solutions need to acknowledge that that’s what’s happening, and address it, because if they don’t, then kicking people off Springwater means they’ll just move on to the next spot.
The flip side of this is how far do we go to accommodate every last “selfish jerk”? (I know that’s not what they are, and that’s now what you’re saying they are.)
I actually don’t doubt that some of them are, which makes it harder for ones who are not.
Q – I second what rachel b said – the camping as the issue it is now dates to Occupy and was aggravated by Hales’ policies. In order to fix it, we need to invest in a course of repeated camp clearing and commit to breaking up camps as soon as they establish instead of waiting and letting people settle in and get territorial. That will have to go on until it’s no longer a remotely desirable option for anybody.
I agree illegal camps shouldn’t be allowed to get established. It didn’t do campers any service to let them get settled, then pull the rug out.
But I don’t believe breaking up camp after camp is a great “investment”, without accompanying that with better alternatives to camping. Going from camp to camp, kicking the same people from one place to another, is not “investing”.
Of course some people will give up on camping here if the hassle becomes too great, but many will not. And pragmatically, giving them alternatives to camping can be cheaper, to say nothing of more humane.
It’s an investment in diminishing the problem of illegal camping and the sense of entitlement that underlies it – just like paying for traffic cops to ticket people who are speeding is an investment in safe roads. I disagree it won’t deter people – it did in the past. At the very least, it will create an incentive to stay well hidden and not cause trouble for your neighbors if you want to live outside. At this point, that would be an improvement.
I don’t think we can deliver an option that is going to be more attractive to the campers unless we give them land and food and let them live however they want, which really isn’t fair to the rest of us. Also, these are desperate people with a lot of problems – again, without any expectations or regulations, big groups of desperate, feral humans make terrible neighbors – no one should have to live next to that. So I don’t think searching for an option more attractive to the campers is going to solve the problem.
Getting people used to the idea that they need to avail themselves of the services that are available now while persistently discouraging bad behavior seems like the most practical way forward at the moment. We can’t afford to be Lady Bountiful here – we’re one relatively small city with deteriorating roads and sewers, underfunded schools, libraries, emergency services and DEQ, and relatively few sources of revenue.
I’m very glad to see resources like the Unity Health Center coming online – I’d be glad to see more shelter beds and more paid social services staff to do triage in the field and help people get the help they need. All of this, though, has to be in proportion to the other services the City needs to pay for. Giving the homeless lifestyle choices seems like a pretty low priority to me.
KTaylor–if you really “don’t think we can deliver an option that is going to be more attractive to the campers unless we give them land and food and let them live however they want” then sure, go ahead and round ’em up, over and over. But even you disagree with that extreme view later in what you wrote.
I don’t know who you’re thinking said that shutting illegal camps will not deter people. I think it will deter some to the point they’ll stop camping, and it will deter others, but not to the point they’ll all stop camping.
You’re misunderstanding my saying we need other alternatives beyond going after campsites. It doesn’t mean “letting them live however they want” or simply offering “lifestyle choices”. I’m in favor of shutting down illegal campsites, but saying it’s smart to do more than that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of illegal camping.
“Getting people used to the idea that they need to avail themselves of the services that are available now while persistently discouraging bad behavior seems like the most practical way forward at the moment.” That’s closer to what I believe. But why stop with services that are available NOW? You say it’s because “we can’t afford to be Lady Bountiful”. But spending more on housing and social services to get people out of illegal camps can be much more cost effective than spending less on those and more on expensive, repeated camp shutdowns and cleanups, so I say we can’t afford NOT to do that.
But then as soon as you say people “need to avail themselves of the services that are available now”, you say you’d “be glad to see MORE shelter beds and MORE paid social services…” But if you think doing more is good, then why have you been arguing with me for saying the same thing?
I think if you’d respond to what I and several others here have actually been saying, without jumping to conclusions that if we’re in favor of one thing, we must be in favor of more extreme things and against other things, you may find we disagree less than you realize.
Sorry Q – no reply button on your post, so replying to mine. I don’t think you’re reading or responding to my arguments very well either. Why not just tell me what you think is a good solution. What is the alternative or alternatives to camping and to shelters that you think would make people voluntarily stop wanting to camp? And how would we pay for it? We’ll still be paying for enforcement anyway because for some people, you’re never going to be able to beat the freedom of camping.
We all know there are no good solutions. The current solution sucks, the alternatives suck, and the ones that don’t suck are utterly unrealistic. What’s left is a set of tradeoffs, which we all are going to evaluate differently depending on our experiences, values, and where our sympathies lie.
well said, hello kitty.
Those are good rules. If rules like that were followed in the tent camps, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation on bikeportland.
Seriously. I have a similar set of rules at my home and I own it.
And what are the life circumstances of the dozens of people you share your home with? How well do you get along with your ever-changing bedroom-mates? Does your stuff ever go missing? Do they snore? When you need to be out past 6, do you have to get permission from anyone? What if you had a long day, does it put you in danger of losing your housing if you don’t do your chore? What if your pet is helping you manage your anxiety? What if living with those dozens of people in close quarters sets off your anxiety? Are you allowed to have friends over? Are they allowed to bring an artisan beer? Are you allowed in your bedroom during the daytime?
My point is that homeless shelters are not a universal one size fits all solution in their current state.
I don’t think anyone’s saying it sounds great and we’d like to live that way, but the fact that you might not trust the dozens of people you share your home with sounds to me like an argument in favor of strict rules. The rules set for shelters are not just mean and arbitrary – they’re usually necessary for the functioning of the place, for making limited funds stretch as far as possible and for controlling a population many of whom would make terrible choices that would negatively impact others if left to their own devices. If my gun helps my anxiety, should I be allowed to keep it when I move into the shelter?
When you’re designing a living situation for hundreds of dysfunctional people with their myriad issues, it’s never going to be all that nice, because it is not nice living with messed up people. It’s definitely nicer, though, with rules.
Hear, hear. Rules are not the enemy. And, unfortunately, humans have proven time and again that we’re simply not capable of living peaceably without them.
They’re not supposed to be… they’re intended as emergency shelter, not a place to drink beers with your buddies.
But what I’m getting lately is that many advocates–self-described and otherwise–clearly think they SHOULD be places you can drink beers with your buddies. With your pit bull at your side. And wifi. And clean needles. And safe drugs. And secure storage for the mountains of stuff you’ve amassed. Until your free tiny house is built. In a community of no rules. In fact, it’s considered a hardship if you don’t get all that. Seriously: if I were among the working poor in Portland right now, I’d be apoplectic.
Artisan beer? Seriously?
Cover the word ‘artisan’ with a bit of tape then read it again.
Great… now there’s sticky stuff on my screen… Thanks a lot, bozo.
Maybe try using your screensaver to remove the tape residue.
Came right off. You, Mr. or Ms. q, are a genius. Maybe I can use the same trick to clean my chain!
I don’t drink and it is a huge pain in the ass trying to be a part of the bike advocacy community here in Portland. I have basically given up on it, especially after seeing numerous threads with comments like this one.
The bike advocacy community can’t even manage to be inclusive enough to throw get-togethers at places other than bars, so it seems hypocritical to expect this of people experiencing poverty.
??? I don’t go to bars much. I don’t go to gatherings either, but I’ve seen several talked about here that don’t involve bars.
I disagree with a number of people here on bikeportland…regularly. Perhaps I’m obtuse but I’ve never felt unwelcome. And I appreciate the differences in opinion, frustrating as it may get sometimes. So, stick around, why don’tcha?
There’s an actual set of complicated issues here, there’s no doubt about that.
The comments in this thread, they break my heart.
“And what are the life circumstances of the dozens of people you share your home with? How well do you get along with your ever-changing bedroom-mates? Does your stuff ever go missing? Do they snore? When you need to be out past 6, do you have to get permission from anyone? What if you had a long day, does it put you in danger of losing your housing if you don’t do your chore? What if your pet is helping you manage your anxiety? What if living with those dozens of people in close quarters sets off your anxiety? Are you allowed to have friends over? Are they allowed to bring an artisan beer? Are you allowed in your bedroom during the daytime?”
…is what most people call “life” and it is something we ALL have to deal with, though I think many younger people today have perhaps been sheltered by their parents to an extent that they’ve had the luxury of skipping these life lessons.
People used to leave home much earlier and, yes–have to put up with other people, some they didn’t like. As roommates. That is part of life when you are in no position to afford what you may want, which is privacy and peace. I and nearly everyone I grew up with went through this for YEARS before working our way to more choice in our lives. I expect that if I fall on hard times (I’ve done it before) I will be back in that position, and I will be grateful for a place at all, grateful to obey any rules when I’m relying on the kindness of others to support me in my difficulties. I don’t understand your not seeing this.
Putting up with snoring is life. Putting up with roommates is life. Putting up with curfews is life. Getting permission is life. Doing chores and suffering consequences of not holding up your end of the bargain is life. Not getting to have a pet or something you want because of your circumstances is life. Having restrictions to having friends over is life. Dealing with life is life. One of the tough things about being poor (and I grew up in poverty, and with drug addicts) is that you don’t have so many choices. And you are damned grateful when someone gives you a hand up–especially with such reasonable conditions. You don’t make demands. You just say “thanks.”
It works well for some people. I’m glad the shelter environment would work for you, should you ever need it.
I don’t think I would be shopping for or demanding “what works for me” should I ever need to stay in a shelter. I’d be taking what’s available to me and being grateful for it, and accepting the rules. The things you list as horrible about shelter life are so innocuous as to be puzzling.
rachel–the problem is that, for varied reasons, many people are not just saying “thanks” and accepting the help. How you’ve reacted to help is admirable, and it’d be easier if everyone responded the same way, but many do not, and many cannot.
I don’t think it’s necessary for them to say “thanks,” though that is the logical and appropriate response to someone helping you. That was the least of my points, actually. It is necessary, however, to accept that you do not get entirely what you want when you are in dire straits. That’s a fact. You take what you can get and you make the most of it. And then you work to get out. Again–not talking about incapacitated, seriously mentally ill folks, here. They need more comprehensive help, and from specialized facilities.
Confused, too, by the statement that many “cannot” (???) give thanks. Why is that? I agree that many do not. But I see that as a choice–not an affliction.
I wasn’t focused on “thanks” either. It’s the whole response–being thankful, understanding you shouldn’t be choosy when getting a handout…those are all things I agree with too, and think everyone SHOULD agree with, and react that way.
But my point is that people camping are NOT reacting that way. I’m not defending them. I’m saying that any solutions will have to address that response.
I said many “cannot” react that way, because they have mental or social issues, or things in their experience that get in the way of having the reaction to help that people would like them to have. If someone is paranoid, or got raped in a shelter, telling them to go to a shelter and be grateful for it isn’t going to work. They are not rejecting shelters out of stubbornness, feeling they deserve better, inability to understand they should be grateful, etc. I see from your comment you also understand mental illness needs special approaches.
Thanks, q. I get what you’re saying. I think what we’ve done in Portland is feed an entrenched mass of individuals (and I don’t mean ALL) who have been–due to our laissez-faire policies–emboldened to stake claim to our public spaces, exercise territoriality and amass an ever-greater amassing of stuff–something the homeless of the past could not do, due to enforcement and policy. This City-made free-for-all has cultivated many of the problems we’re facing, including the refusal of “the system” which is there to give a hand up, and a general attitude of belligerence, not thanks.
We clearly need to triage and get seriously mentally ill folks to real care. Adventist Health, Kaiser, Legacy & OHSU are opening the Unity Center for Behavioral Health soon (2017) and that’s a good new first step, though we need more long-term options as well.
Drug addicts need to be pointed to services and if they won’t go, NOT given the option of setting up a tent anywhere on public land and shooting up. Travelers need to be shown the door. I don’t care where they go–show them the door. Don’t give the option of “hey, put up a tent over here!”
I don’t get any sense that the City has organized our considerable homeless agency forces to go out to the camps and do this triage, except as it applies to Veterans.
Some are rejecting shelters out of ‘stubbonness’, by the way, though I wasn’t attributing motives. I think Angel’s posts must mirror much of what he/she heard while working in shelters.
rachel–I think we’re thinking very similarly. That was a good summary of what I think should be happening (and why) also.
Thanks, q. 🙂 And, huzzah!
rachel–good thing neither of us had called the other one a NIMBY earlier!
You can only push reasonable people so far before they have had enough.
525 beds just waiting to be used: http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/286819-163022-why-not-wapato
Everything about Wapato Jail is crazy. We’re paying for that. Probably nobody is paying a political price for that.
If anybody _wants_ to sleep in Wapato I’d say let them do it. It might be a squat by now except for the part about being basically a fort and also more or less owned by law enforcement.
Personally I’d choose camping by a freeway over sleeping in a jail building. You go first.
Oh, and the description of the homeless shelter? Sounds kind of like jail, with the difference that sometimes you have to go outside, ready or not.
“Personally I’d choose camping by a freeway over sleeping in a jail building. You go first.”
Okay, let’s re-visit that this coming winter.
Well, I toured a prison once but I haven’t ‘been in jail’. You know, the doors are built in such a way that you need another person to open one, then a second after the first closes. Etc., etc. Yep, rather camp.
I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean the houseless aren’t also moving here in larger numbers than are moving elsewhere. I would guess that most of us here are transplants, which was my point in another post. The houseless situation in certain cities is a serious issue that needs to also be handled properly with state and federal support.
Really? That’s a breakthrough in autonomous vehicle technology I was unaware of.
I let my Jeep Wrangler out for the evening last week, and it came back well after curfew, with $800 in charges on my credit card. I think it was buying rounds for everyone at the strip club.
Don’t be complacent, especially with Jeeps. They can be real bastards.
Happy Hour at Oil Can Henry’s? Synth Lube for everyone?
They mayor should be finically liable to pay the costs to clean up the environmental damages that have been allowed to accrue under his explicit approval. I hope the group who had their case dismissed re files their suit against him. As a city leader he can’t differ accountability to the middle class any more. Just cause you’re homeless does not give you the right to pollute, just cause you’re rich does not give you the right to turn a blind eye.
This kick out was only a self preservation act by the mayor cause of the correlation to the fire that just happened along the trail and the effect the camp has on surrounding residences and business. It proves the suit filed against him (“which was dropped the day of the fire”) had validity.
What about as a temporary solution we look to church parking lots? There are churches in every neighborhood and every church has a parking lot, and they sit empty for 90% of the week. Churches could collaborate with local government and non-profits to provide the needed services (water, bathroom, food, etc.). Setting up tents on pavement isn’t easy, so supplies to do so would need to be provided. Different lots could be set up to accommodate those with different needs (family specific, those with specific addictions, those needing employment, those with employment who need a very quiet space, etc.) in order to provide what is most needed.
Rules would need to be established and it would be the job of the residents of the lot to get it ready for Sunday service, or whenever service happens. It would also provide the city with data, such as number of people who are able to transition out of houselessness when provided “x” type of service and support.
I realize just about every neighborhood would not be in favor, but something needs to be done. If camps were kept small it would help with keeping them manageable.
And what a great way for churchgoers to have a direct, positive impact on their fellow humans. People could bring donations with them to church, for example. Heck, some may even talk to some of the lot residents and find out just how human they are.
This temporary solution wouldn’t be a solution to everyone who is camping outdoors, but it may just be what is needed for many for a period of time in order to get the needed stability to transition out of houselessness (assuming some sort of housing will be available to them in the future, of course).