Last week I highlighted conditions on the I-205 path at NE Sandy Boulevard. The response to the coverage here and on Facebook was overwhelming.
My intention was to make people aware that this path and others have become dramatically impacted by our homelessness crisis. Not only was the path full of personal belongings and discarded items, many of our fellow Portlanders have become so desperate for a place to live that they built shelters directly on the path — nearly blocking it in some sections.
The comments here on BikePortland were mostly productive and I think overall we’ve all learned a lot about the various issues at play. Facebook was a different story. Too many of the 1,300 or so comments were useless and mean. So, after over 220,000 views and 2,500 shares in just four days, I took the video down and posted a note to explain why.
On Saturday, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation, left a comment on that post that I think merits more attention. I’ve pasted it below:
You probably know this but the I-205 path is ODOT property and up until very recently ODOT’s sole responsibility — the city did not have jurisdiction for clean ups. An agreement between ODOT and the City was recently made and passed by Council granting the city the ability to conduct the clean ups. Why is this a good thing? Because the city has adopted more humane policies for camp clean-ups than ODOT and because ODOT has been hard to reach and slow to act in many areas letting hazardous situations grow and fester. The situation on this path is unacceptable and unsafe for everyone involved. It’s on the list for clean up, which I’ve been told is coming soon.
Also unacceptable is to sweep people when we don’t have viable alternatives to offer them. We only have a few sanctioned villages and people can’t just show up and pitch their tents. We don’t have and can’t manage enough alternative shelter sites for everyone who’s living outside. We don’t have adequate emergency shelter (outside of severe winter weather events) both in number of beds and types of demographics served and not every homeless person is willing or able to endure a shelter setting. And most importantly we don’t have adequate affordable housing, let alone the supportive housing needed by individuals who face challenges that prevent them from being succesful in housing on their own. There is literally nowhere for them to go — this is a local, regional, state, and national crisis.
Very few people are homeless by choice. Poverty is not a choice. Mental illness is not a choice. Addiction is not a choice. And our housing crisis has pushed thousands of people into homelessness. That was a choice — a choice made by corporate interests and policy makers to not treat housing like the basic need and human right that it is— but the people who have suffered the consequences had no choice.
Once an individual becomes homeless it is exponentially harder to get back into housing and employment. It’s a dangerous, humiliating, and traumatic experience that can exacerbate existing conditions and cause new ones.
I know many Portlanders are frustrated by our homeless crisis. I also understand the frustration of cyclists who experience frequent and often dangerous infringement on our designated bike lanes and paths. And on the I-205 path those two frustrations converge with some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in our city. I was disappointed to see some of the comments—both the misinformation and lack of compassion—but heartened by others. People experiencing homelessness are our neighbors and community members. They are suffering. And our entire society is failing them. I hope more people can keep these harsh realities in mind when they encounter scenes like the one you shared.
I hope we’ve all learned something here; or at least gained a broader perspective on how these complex issues intersect.
In hindsight, I would have handled this story differently. Even though we’ve covered homelessness from a non-cycling perspective on several occasions in the past, this time I left out important context.
I’m sorry my coverage gave a platform for hate and divisiveness. I’ll be more careful in the future.
If you’re curious about the status of the I-205 path at Sandy, the City of Portland addressed it on Thursday and posted this update to Twitter:
Crews finished cleaning the I-205/NE Sandy multi-use path yesterday. We cleaned the ODOT-owned site just 3.5 weeks ago, and we’re hoping it stays clear so everyone can enjoy it. pic.twitter.com/usGZkBhiWJ
— Portland Office of Management & Finance (@PDX_OMF) March 21, 2019
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So, would the city not sweep individuals without homes if they were to setup shelter on a city street, thereby blocking people in their motor vehicles?
We may soon find out. The last few times I rode north on 122nd there was some kind of obstruction (tents/belongings?) around the Burnside – Glisan area. Already on the very edge of the bike lane. That’s a highly visible area on a very busy street.
I’m wondering how long this will be there.
There are “urban campers” on the sidewalk out next the US Bank on NE 122nd just north of Glisan. The bank manager has stated employees and customers are scared. Drug use and menacing is taking place and complaints to the city fall on deaf ears. But keep paying your taxes folks!
Comment of the week…because it does raise a valid question.
It’s obviously a “false equivalency”
Thanks for sharing, Jonathan
The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center always seems to have beds available during Spring, Summer, and Fall. They have places where they can go, they just don’t want to go. Because not only we let them, but a large chunk of people encourage them to live on the streets.
This is completely false. We are 2-3k beds short for meeting the need to shelter those living outside today. Please stop perpetuating this misinformation.
Both statements could be true.
we are 2 to 3 thousand beds short in a city where 6 or 7 thousand refuse to go to the shelters.
Personally, I have hit my breaking point and I do not in any way care about ***deleted by moderator***. I am so sick of dealing with ***deleted by moderator*** only to get a lecture about how they don’t chose it and then a whole statement about the homeless in this city. Whoever challenges her and has a platform of getting rid of the homeless gets my money and vote. I’m done.
The sheer lack of regard you have for your fellow human beings is appalling. I hope one day you look back on your callousness here with regret.
won’t happen. They have no regard for me. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
“getting rid of the homeless”
How about getting rid of climate change or gravity or callous humans who post ignorant comments? Too bad the world isn’t quite so simple…
Just vote for the guy who will make the problem disappear. Poof!
They’re “spiritually-based” and only accept sober people that will admit they need help. In other words, they’re not opening their arms to the masses that reside in the streets.
This is true, you have to be at least one week clean to get into the program. Can you guess how many are willing to do that? Hint… not enough.
How many commenters here have been sober for the last 7 days?
I’ve been, except for last night and maybe one other time.
Their money, their mission, their rules. Simply housing addicts and alcoholics doesn’t solve anything. Good for the Sally Ann wanting to work with those who are actually tying to improve them selves and get off the streets.
Reminder that The Salvation Army is essentially run like a cult and also has a long track record of hating LGBTQ folks.
So our city council person is basically is saying nothing can be done about the homeless/houseless/drug problem.
If you pay taxes it’s hopeless. Leave Portland while you can. We are.
I often wonder if the people of Portland would show the same compassion to campers if they were mostly black or brown. I don’t think when our people endure crippling poverty or drug addiction we were treated with such sympathy.
I am not making a comment on homelessness or the economic structure that promotes wealth inequality, but from a minority lens, excusing people who block public property and right of ways with their personal possessions reeks of privilege.
You’ve opened my eyes! I never thought of it like that!
Homelessness aside…this is the only active transportation corridor to pass over, or under I-84 and the railroad right of way to the jobs in the Columbia River Corridor in East Portland. If the city is serious about active transportation alternatives to jobs in the corridor, this facility has to remain safe and usable. There are no sidewalks, or bike lanes to cross over, or under I-84 and the railroad between the 205 path and Gresham.
The Columbia River Corridor employs almost as many people as the downtown city center. This begs you to ask why east Portland continues fall behind the inner city when it comes to transportation infrastructure.
Because we still have no Neighborhood Greenways east of I-205 from the EPIM plan passed by council in 2012, it drives me a little crazy that so many people complain about the NE 9th Ave. alignment in the inner city while east Portland continues to wait for any Greenways that have been funded for years. I might add the 9th Ave. Greenway will come with a shiny new $15 million bridge connecting NE to SE and will be completed before all projects in the EPIM plan are completed. They were scheduled to be completed by 2017.
Neighborhood Greenways in East Portland do nothing for Portland’s financial and real estate interests. The Green Loop and Dense New Urbanist Luxury housing on the other hand are absolutely essential to glorious future of “the city that works for rich people”.
PS: The fully-funded 100s neighborhood greenway was first slated for build out in 2014. 5 years later…nothing.
Finally, I agree with you on something!
I’ve lived on the east side for five years now, was in trendy NE before that. The difference in attention from City Hall is astonishing.
We need neighborhood-based city governance. We’ve been ignored for decades out here, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
162nd has “unofficial” bike lanes that cross I-84 and the railroad. A demand trail goes above the road level and has a tunnel through the railroad bridge.
Those 6 inch shoulders aren’t bike lanes by any definition. And those pedestrian access tunnels aren’t looking very welcoming. But the area looks like a great place to camp withe these tunnels and all the dry space under the freeway.
That crossing still has less car traffic than numerous freeway crossings on the westside of the metro area.
The only area worse than E. Portland for active transportation infrastructure.
If you consider the parallel, certain cities forbid sidewalk riding in certain locations for the safety of pedestrians, and certain highways forbid bicycles and equestrians in select spaces where a danger is posed. Maybe some choke points on this corridor could have “no stopping” signage/enforcement? (And yes, I know that won’t solve the homeless crisis).
I’m not sure why you would expect Facebook not to be useless and mean. Its beyond useless and mean actually, and responsible for promoting some of the most vile hate groups, for sparking genocide, and aiding in slave trafficking. I’ve yet to see a useful and non-mean discussion on Facebook on any kind of controversial issue.
Why the hell would you ever turn the comments on on a post like that anyway? It’s Facebook, what, you actually expect honest and calm discord?
Because AI will moderate out the hate and only useful comments remain… 😉
OK. Here’s my mean, useless comment: I, a reasonably fit male, no longer feel safe riding the I-205 Path. There’s no way my wife and kids can ride it. We have lost access to a commuter route and recreational facility that we previously used and even enjoyed. No more. I feel like it was stolen from us.
Chloe, I hope you try riding those paths – by yourself. Then let’s hear what you have to say.
Why does Choe etc only refer to cyclists. These are multi user paths of walkers, wheelchair users. No one can be safe.
I would be surprised if she or anyone else in charge of the city has spent a significant amount of time on the I-205 path to experience this.
Cyclists make an easy scapegoat I suppose. It’s really easy to flame the “cyclists hate homeless people” fire instead of mentioning that plenty of people use the path for other reasons, not to mention the impacts to the nearby residents. (See also: cyclists cause gentrification, cyclists push out minorities, etc.) It’s all BS, a bike is just a tool to get around that’s cheaper and more convenient than driving or bussing.
Comment deleted by moderator.
Chris, srsly? Cut it out.
Singling out cyclists as the premier users of the path seemed odd to me too. In my experience cyclists are never a majority, and often not even a plurality. Lots of runners, dog walkers, wheelchair users and plain old walkers on the paths.
Who is this “us”? Cyclists? People who sleep under roofs? Everyone except those who camp out on the path?
Nothing has been stolen from you. The paths belong to the whole city collectively. I am also sad that I do not feel safe on multi-use paths. Sweeps will just move people somewhere else. A society that can’t even provide mental care, medical care and shelter for its own people is a failure, and this is why we can’t have nice things.
Not can’t provide mental health care, but are banned by law from doing so until someone becomes a threat to their or others safety. You cannot force people into care if they don’t want it. You can’t force an addict in to a program against their will unless it is part of a prison program.
You help the people you can. Those who look for help and want off the streets. Anything else becomes a waste of resources . If they don’t want help you can’t force it.
I agree with you. The challenge is to create services that people want to use. Very few people actually want be homeless/addicted/mentally unhealthy, but many people have bad and damaging experiences with service providers/society at large.
Jim: I guess you are being deliberately obtuse. By “us” I mean the citizens, taxpayers, residents and visitors to the area who are seeking to use the facilities (in this case the MUP) for the purposes for which the facilities were designed and intended.
Elsewhere on this tread, you’ve indicated that you, too, have chosen to ride on alternative facilities due to feeling unsafe or having been attacked. The fact that you are willing to abandon the use of facilities doesn’t seem that different from my choice, except that you are more willing to accept that state of affairs than I am. I consider that the use of facilities has been “stolen” from me and others.
I am not being deliberately obtuse. My point is that many people, including yourself, do not seem to count homeless people as citizens. Yes, they are using the path in a selfish way. They are also experiencing extreme hardship, and clearing the paths would make life even harder for them. These things do not justify each other, but show a very complex situation.
Many people here hate that so much road space is given over to motor vehicles, but I’ve never heard people here say that cars “stole” the space.
I am certainly not willing to accept the state of affairs. They are terrible. I am just hesitant to pile more hardship on top of homeless people by sweeping them without any plan about where they can live. I don’t put my need for a bike path over peoples’ need for a place to sleep. I would love the path to be cleared, but only as part of a much bigger plan.
II’ll donate $$$ to her opponent. Not even kidding. She’s condescending and believes she’s unaccountable. She doesn’t know homeless people or social work – she is forever running for office. Don’t think she has compassion (did she do anything to help the homeless before she was elected? No, she ran a string of failed small businesses). Time for her to get off the campaign trail and start to govern if she doesn’t want to get unseated.
I don’t want to live in Portland if a class of people who trash the public sphere, create an atmosphere of danger, and threaten the weak and small, is categorically exempt from the law.
If everyone of them wanted a shelter to go to. Then, yes, 190 beds isn’t enough. But having a shelter that doesn’t get filled. Well, you come one with your idea of what happening. During the Summer, The Salvation Army is lucky to have 30 of those beds filled. I used to believe there just wan’t enough shelters and homes to go to. But now that I know how many beds The Salvation Army has and how they just don’t get filled for three-fourths of the year. Leads me to believe they want to be where they are.
This was a reply to Steve B.
You write about the number of beds. Do you also know the number of rapes that happen in shelters? The number of pets that would have to be parted with to sleep in shelters? The number of attempts it takes to break addiction when also living in criminalized poverty?
So many comments seem to be written from a comfortable distance.
What about the number of sexual assaults (and other violence) that occur on the almost completely unsupervised path? Homeless-on-homeless violence is very common and rarely reported, for obvious reasons. It’s ludicrous that you could look at the situation on the 205 MUP path and claim that it’s “safer” for anyone to try and live there. Making excuses like that just perpetuates the cycles of abuse that relief orgs are trying to break! When I hear arguments like this, they just stink of so much so-called “whataboutism.”
I am not claiming that living on the path is safer. I am not making excuses for anything. I am trying to describe how (current) shelters are not a solution for many people. I am trying to counter the “whataboutism” of shelters, and how heartless and selfish it is to devote resources to sweeps that remove the issue for our sight but do nothing to alleviate homelessness. Either I’ve expressed myself poorly or you’ve really misread my comment.
Honestly, there is no solution. In all these years, in all these cities, there has never been a solution. You can buy housing and hand it over for free, pay people to supervise them, feed them and do everything a normal human being does for themselves. I’m sure there’s an extra million dollars per person……
There are solutions. There are people who have successfully left the streets, learned to cope with the internal and eternal forces. There are organizations helping people transition: R2D2, Dignity Village, many others. We should learn from these people before we just throw up our hands. “I’ve tried nothin’, and I’m all out of ideas.”
It is a men’s only shelter. I am not sure how much rape happens as for male on male.
OK then, physical violence. Do you really need me to lists all possible reasons that a person would not be comfortable there, or can you accept that I’m just giving examples? Also, male-on-male sexual violence happens and is real. I don’t understand the point of your comment.
It happens a lot more than you think.
You tell us how many.
But is Chole not opposed and viciously fighting the I-5 Rose Quarter project ?
Thanks for posting this Jonathan.
The 205 path should be an important part of the bike infrastructure in Portland. It’s so unsafe to ride that as a small female, I feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to get where I need to go without it. Not everyone who rides around the Eastside has that option. Chloe, you need to do better.
The homeless are redefining the character of our city. Menacing, squalid and poorly governed. “our entire society society is failing them” and the city of Portland is leading that parade
“I’m sorry my coverage gave a platform for hate and divisiveness. I’ll be more careful in the future.”
Jonathan, I’d guess it’s impossible to write articles about many topics without having at least some people use them as platforms for hate and divisiveness. So don’t be hard on yourself. Generating some hate may be a sign that you’re writing about important things.
Then again, articles about scooters generate vitriol as well….
So hide the problem? They won’t go to shelters because they have rules. So make rules about the trails and they will go.
Chloe’s comment was more intelligent and informed than many on this page. There aren’t easy solutions, it will take time and money and political will that does’t currently exist.
So many commenters’ “solutions” here seem to have no idea about the underlying realities of peoples’ lives, and seem to conveniently dovetail with the writers’ self interest.
Her passive-aggressive attitude is obnoxious and not welcome from an elected official. “I’ve been told [clean up] is coming soon” is the best we can get from her? Not even a promise to fix the problem? Most of her comment involves scolding people about not having compassion for homeless folks. Sorry that I’m sick of what little cycling space we have being taken over by chop shops, needles, and garbage. This is not how a functioning society should be working. Please just raise my taxes so we can pay for medical treatment and housing for these people, instead of scolding “cyclists” for not having compassion.
You’re calling people passive aggressive? All I know about you is that you’re complaining and passively asking other people to tax you more. Go donate your money. Go lobby city hall or Salem. Do something. Maybe you do already, this would just show how silly if is for us to sit around lobbing insults at each other.
I do actually have a monthly donation to a local homeless shelter. As for lobbying, what’s the point? I’ve tried that and get nothing but passive-aggressive attitudes from city officials. They don’t listen to you unless you show up with your checkbook. We elect representatives to come up with solutions to problems for us, not just give us lip service and excuses why we are wrong about things or why they can’t fix stuff.
I appreciate that you are donating. And yes, our political representative systems is deeply broken. Money rules most things. Politicians do also fear losing elections, so if enough constituents makes their views known it can sway electeds. There was a homeless bill of rights in Salem that got close to sponsorship. I don’t know how to rally enough supporters but it does seem possible.
It’s sad to see that Jonathan is no longer an advocate for cycling access in Portland. I don’t know where this blog is headed, but it probably shouldn’t be called BikePortland anymore if it refuses to stand up against crime, trash and violence making our MUPs unsafe and unusable.
If you think that’s harsh, you probably don’t live 2 two blocks off the path like I do. I’m sure Chloe doesn’t either.
He seems to have given up long ago. Jonathan seems like a nice guy but seriously out of touch with what we are dealing with out here. We truly have reached a crisis in east PDX and nobody seems to be able or willing to help us.
This is why city council needs to have a district representation. Once a councilor is reliant on votes from a specific area to retain their seat they’ll start to seriously stand up for the issues that matter to their voters. Right now they care only about the issues that impact the biggest donors.
Yet here you are making that comment on a follow-up article to another article he wrote advocating for better access to a bike path. And that’s on top of the other dozens of articles just in the past few months that advocate for cycling access in Portland.
What makes you say I don’t care about cycling access in Portland?
Because I posted a comment from an important local politician about a big issue we are facing?
Do I only post things I fully agree with? No. Do I often post things that I think the community should know about — whether I believe/endorse them myself? Yes!
Also, I don’t know why so many people feel that putting compassion and sensitivity for homeless first in these discussions is mutually exclusive with wanting to do more to keep the path safe and accessible.
Did all of you realize that four days after our post the City of Portland addressed the conditions on this section of the path? Here is the update and photos they posted to Twitter.
This is a hard issue. I’m willing to give people some room to figure it out. BikePortland is here to highlight what’s going on and provide a platform for conversations and solutions.
I care deeply about people and their health and safety. Whether they need a safe place to live and sleep or they need a safe place to bike.
Thanks for your comment.
Let me make it clear: you have turned your back on your readers and the comments on your posts here make this obvious. We’ve all been make to feel unsafe, denied access, threatened or worse. The last year on the 205 MUP has been an undeniable escalation of trends that have reached a boiling point, and I was glad that you had given the absolutely shameful path conditions some ink.
Under pressure from activists, you reversed course and ran away from the issue, instead embracing a population that chooses to abuse our public spaces and put the safety of everyday people at risk. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.
It’s ridiculous to throw our hands up and say “it’s complicated, what can we do?” for the millionth time. We can do more than navel-gaze on Twitter about the meaning of the word “cleanup.” Portland needs real enforcement action before we lose these resources permanently. We cannot let this problem spiral any further out of control.
I disagree with you.
I posted a video of conditions with the word “Unacceptable” in the headline. That post and the video remains here on BikePortland. I removed it from Facebook because there were way too many haters spewing gross things. I haven’t “reversed course”. I am merely accepting the fact that this issue requires sensitivity because — despite frustrations with blockage of the path — we are dealing with human beings.
And you are wrong that I was influenced only by “activists”. My thinking and actions are influenced by many things — including activists but also comments likes yours and my own conscience.
I think we’ll find the best solutions when we are all aware of different views and perspectives.
Do you want to write a guest opinion about your belief that we need “real enforcement action”? I’d be happy to consider publishing that.
You and I have a different approach to this. My approach is absolutely not to ignore the problem. It’s to try and approach it with the sensitivity it deserves and requires. And yes, I care about stuff like the words we use. Just like using “crash” instead of “accident”. Seems like a small detail, but the words we use to describe the problem and the people involved matter.
And you said, “We cannot let this problem spiral any further out of control.” Again, I literally posted a video of conditions with the word “unacceptable” in the headline. I think you and I might agree about more than you think. I too think this is a very urgent issue that should not be ignored any longer.
I appreciate your passion on this issue, but I think your criticisms of me/BikePortland/Commissioner are more about going after the messenger as a convenient scapegoat for your frustrations.
I’m legitimately confused at the anger expressed at Chloe Eudaly for her post. As she said, up until very recently this was under ODOT jurisdiction and PBOT had no legal authority to touch the paths. And now that they do, “It’s on the list for clean up.” She’s saying the issue is going to be addressed. I imagine such an effort takes some planning and requires scheduling people with appropriate skills, experience and empathy. Perhaps folks can put the pitchforks down for a second and let that happen?
The underpass that Jonathan filmed has been blocked (or nearly blocked) for MONTHS now. It’s been a problem spot in the past, as well, so this is nothing new.
When COP took over “campsite cleanup” I feared that response time would become even worse due to already sizable funding hurdles and the political leanings of a small group of vocal activists who have seemingly endless time to foist their do-nothing agenda upon City Hall.
It appears that my fears have come true.
So… It’s been blocked for months, then Johnathan posts about it, gets it fixed in a matter of days, and you’re saying he’s turned his back on cyclists?
This post from the Portland Office of Management and Finance states they cleaned it just 3.5 weeks ago. So no it hasn’t been blocked for months.
3.5 weeks is less than a month. It’s been blocked every month. It’s been blocked for months. It was blocked in September. A couple days every few months of not being blocked doesn’t count since there’s no difference to the general public.
It hasn’t been blocked for months. Multiple cleanups have occurred. The op was complaining about the city not doing a good job but they seem to be doing much better then ODOT was. What is your solution. I’m sure they’d appreciate your input especially if it conforms to the various standards the city has established in dealing with the homeless.
Because she very easily could have just stopped after the first paragraph (literally we hear you and we’re doing our best to work on it). Does anyone who lives in Portland honestly not know that homelessness is a complicated problem?
It’s because she took 90% of the comments to scold people for not having compassion for homeless people instead of talking about how she is going to work to solve the problem. She didn’t even make a claim that it was going to be fixed, only a passive “I’ve been told” mention with no date or plan or anything.
If that’s your attitude, why would you think the comments on here that scold drivers on here or anywhere else will make them listen? Why would the decision makers listen to you/us when we scold the I-5 project?
If you want people to hear you when you share your concerns, you may want to try becoming less angry when others share concerns about comments they find to be counterproductive.
If I was Chloe reading this thread, I would write off BikePortland readers because “they” aren’t willing to hear “We’re working on it. Please be compassionate”. The comments even on this thread prompt disgust from people who are working on this intractable problem.
The path situation is terrible. For everyone. It’s getting cleaned after the city was allowed to clean it. If you think that’s not enough and deserves so much scorn that it devalues everything that Commissioner Eudaly has done. It’s so bad that you’re going to contribute to an opponent and kick her out of office. Then, good luck finding someone who will make you happy. There is no easy way out here and no matter the campaign promises or personal skill, there are bunches of laws and budget issues related to housing, drug treatment, mental health treatment, and shelter that will not simply go away as some on this thread seem to wish.
I just don’t like her “holier than thou” attitude towards everything. She is immature and has shown to be unfit for public office. She doesn’t listen to her constituents, often leaves city hall meetings because she’s tired of listening to people, ends meetings because she doesn’t like someone’s perfume, and complains about people filming her on a public street. She has shown to have a utter distain for any constituent she does not personally agree with and would rather ban people from her Facebook than have actual political discord.
Sorry if I expect my elected officials to behave like adults and work towards solving problems than to give one-off passive-aggressive statements.
Perfume in closed spaces is serious. I’ve left meetings due to people that think it’s OK to dowse themselves in acrid scents and then get into a closed room. This is why many large companies have a No Perfume rule in the office.
You’re a city representative and a group managed to all travel from different parts of town and meet at the same time and place to have their voices heard and you storm off because of a smell. Suck it up and listen do your damn constituents for once.
Serious question: in your estimation, for how many years do we have to continue to wring our hands and bemoan this situation without doing anything meaningful about it, before it has been deemed to have gone on for too long?
And I’m not just talking about the blocked paths and ‘camping’; I’m also talking about all the stolen bikes, petty crimes, harassment and other quality of life issues associated with this ‘problem’.
It’s already been too long! We’ve been so busy fighting about what kind of housing is acceptable where that we forgot to build enough places for people to live. We’ve pushed away so many shelters and services that we don’t have enough. We’ve fought taxes at the state and national level in a way that’s crippled the mental health, social service, and drug treatment systems. These are not things that are in City Council’s hands.
If you’re like me, you’ve had people camp in your front yard. You’ve had human poop on your sidewalk this week. There is no doubt that this has gotten way too bad and gone on way too long.
I do think that there is urgency around this problem. I don’t think anyone really knows the answer and that there are a lot of cards stacked against decision makers. But, it’s a terrible human tragedy and is deeply hurtful to our community. We need to act. But, we also need to be kind to each other through this difficult process and be willing to hear from multiple perspectives.
Compassion-shaming is what Portland Progressives do best. And then say there are no solutions and that you are privileged and racist.
Have you ever had someone take a swing at you while doing something as innocent as riding your bike?
Yes. It was horrible. I now ride different routes. And also I know that some people have much bigger problems that we as a community are failing to address.
I respect her efforts but Commissioner Eudaly’s diplomatic choices of phrase only slightly mask framing this as a “frustrated cyclists vs. desperately poor and vulnerable people” issue. That’s not fair. First, it reduces a broad and diverse range of path users and would-be path users to a monochrome—one that is politically acceptable to trivialize. Second, it presses people who use paths into the service of the haters. As a path user I called 911—and asked for a welfare check—after I was threatened with a knife by an unwell person under the Morrison Bridge. Today. Finally, framing the issue as us vs. them invalidates path users’ experiences by contrasting those experiences with the unquestionably worse experiences of desperate poverty. That’s a good way to deflect calls for action. Which might serve an elected leader well. But it isn’t fair to anyone.
Bottom line: Money is the solution to this (and other) problems. And in today’s tax-cut manic society, money won’t be forthcoming. Have you seen the tax cuts planned for the new baseball stadium? Must get used to the have-nots being in your face. They’re here to stay and more are on the way. Lots more.
We already pay way too many taxes in Oregon for the ‘level of service’ we are provided, whether it is the condition of the roads, schools or bike paths.
Check out the news documentary “Seattle is dying” about the homeless situation up there , why it’s happening, and solutions offered.
Be cafeful with that documentary. Not sure I’d call anything coming from Sinclair “news”. That’s just one perspective on the issue… and one that many people I respect find completely off base.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss the documentary because you disagree with the political leanings of the corporation that owns the station that produced it. That’s straight out of 45’s playbook.
– Focuses, explicitly, on one element of the homeless population: chronic meth and heroin users. It does not address people simply “down on their luck” or who were priced out of housing. That is a completely separate issue.
– Frames the issue as a human tragedy and shows sympathy toward the people living outside (with one well-deserved exception).
– Faults pretty much all of (Seattle) society for letting things get so bad.
– Highlights the ways the criminal justice system is not equipped to address the problem.
– Details a program in Rhode Island that focuses on treatment and has apparently been successful
– Highlights the fact that the R.I. program was designed and is administered by women, and posits that we would not be in this situation if women were in charge of the response.
It is very far from right wing propaganda. While the financial ties between Sinclair, the drug industry, and the prison system would likely temper my enthusiasm, I found it to be a fair and accurate portrait of a nearly intractable problem.
Thanks Sigma. You’re right. I was too quick to dismiss it. I still haven’t watched the whole thing, but after watching the first few minutes I think it is notable and is something people should definitely watch.
Again, it’s my belief problems like this are best solved when as many people as possible are aware of the different perspectives that exist. This video shares a perspective I know many people have.
They documented their thesis fairly well (ignoring the hyperbolic title). Unlike many voices on all sides, they even presented a real-world case study of a solution in Rhode Island that is producing desirable results; see minutes 44 to 52 in this version: https://youtu.be/bpAi70WWBlw
Or could it be the documentary highlights an inconvenient truth that Portland doesn’t want hear?
And that the solution is “mean”.
Just a few years ago,
-people could find rooms around old town for 8 or 15 dollars a night, now they’re gone
-people could share space in inner NE for $75 a month, now that’s gone
-people could stay with their families in pre-gentrified neighborhoods, now that’s gone
Also, drug use and mental health issues often emerge *after* people lose their housing as either coping mechanisms and/or due to lack of good health care.
It’s not as if people decide to be addicts and camp on MUP paths because it’s a charming luxurious life full of carefree whimsy and happy hallucinations.
So much of the mindset that’s expressed in these comments and elsewhere are so hateful and ignorant. There but for the grace of the power elite go I.
I regularly ride on the 205 path under Sandy and did have turn turn around and find another way 4x in the last 2 weeks. But it’s a small inconvenience. I got to go home to a warm house with a comfy bed where I could snuggle with my loved ones and a friendly cat.
When our city & state leaders stop capitulating to real estate interests (both small time flippers and big evil corporations) we might start to see some remedy here.
But until then, I hope we don’t continue to lose our humanity.
Chloe makes a comment that asks for compassion. She notes that it is a problem and is being addressed, and in factit was shortly thereafter cleaned up, just 3.5 weeks after the last clean-up. Chloe simply asks that people bear this impossible situation in mind when being outraged, not that they should ignore it.
The majority of people here, in turn, are outraged that she’s useless because she’s not helping, together with ill-informed, tired tropes about homeless people choosing to be addicts. Yep, good job internet, you’ve come through once again.
Something that struck me while reading your comment: it seems uncontroversial to suggest drivers are responsible for crashes because they choose to drive in a risky manner, so why aren’t addicts responsible for the consequences of their addiction because they too chose risky behavior?
Is addiction an “accident”? Or is it a “crash”?
Seems there’s a difference between an opioid crisis brought on by a greedy drug company and doctors that has fed a massive meth epidemic that has crippled people’s lives and someone choosing to drink and drive or speed. This drug crises is a result of following doctors orders for many people out there.
Really? there were addicts before greedy big pharma came along and they will still be around after greedy big pharma is out of the picture. IMO, greedy big pharma is simply another convenient strawman/scapegoat.
Your statement applies equally to drivers and driving.
Of course there’s a difference; I wasn’t comparing the two, only asking about the level of responsibility that people bear for their situation.
I can’t accept that the answer is “none”.
I don’t want to sound flippant or make light of anything, but I have come to think that many of the issues we are discussing, and attempting to figure out levels of responsibility for situations those issues can create, can be brought on or exacerbated by what I have started calling “Dignity Deficit Disorder”. Don’t laugh—I don’t think it’s a thing, officially, but I don’t mean it as a joke. There is a certain spiral of descent into deeper levels of caring less and less about one’s state of affairs as one’s perceived dignity is stripped away, either by one’s own accumulated “choices”, or by blows dealt (sometimes insidiously) by external forces. My opinion only, but I think different folks have different thresholds of “dignity level” that they can recover from by means of their own bootstraps, vs. needing outside intervention. This of course does not apply to those with bona fide mental illness.
Unless one sticks strictly to whatever version of the straight-‘n’-narrow one may subscribe to, who can know how much dignity they can afford to “lose” before their threshold is reached and “choices” to use addictive substances, or engage in other activities—activities that would be assiduously avoided by the same person with intact dignity—seem more and more reasonable.
Not intended to be a comprehensive explanation for everything, just my partial thoughts on one aspect of life that influences “choices”. I’m not a psychologist, and I also believe that if Free Will exists, people do indeed make intentional choices that will lead them down one path vs. another, and should take some responsibility for choosing a path. What makes a particular path seem attractive, and how far down the path an individual can go and still come back, remains highly individualized.
My opinion only, but I think different folks have different thresholds of “dignity level” that they can recover from by means of their own bootstraps, vs. needing outside intervention. This of course does not apply to those with bona fide mental illness.
I agree with your whole point (as I understand it) so much that I wouldn’t even make that exception. Some people have psychological problems – “bona fide mental illness” – they can cope with by themselves, or by voluntarily visiting an M.D. or personal confidant – so, “by means of their own bootstraps” – while others are unable to take such steps for a variety of reasons and degrees. As you say, it’s highly individualized.
I think you are on to something.
Two of my biggest take-aways after serving on the Multnomah County Grand Jury a few years ago were that some people don’t give a crap simply because they are trying to get by, and many people have not been taught how to make good decisions by having good parents and upbringing or that they do not have the ease to make them because of their immediate circumstances (lack of money, kids to provide for, etc.). Thinking about the big picture and society in general was something those better off had the resources and time/energy to do.
Just so I’m clear, you’re ignoring the huge numbers of people suffering a substance abuse disorder that originated with valid prescrioptions for pain relief, mental health issues, and the like? I mean, I don’t have time to compile the exact and complete statistics, but consider that of the 11.5 million people that misused painkillers in 2016, a full 62% did so because of pain. About 10% of those people develop substance abuse disorders. How dare they be risky.
Ok. So there are some folks that chose to engage in recreational drug use. Well, about 890,000 of them were children between 12 and 17, some of whom will become addicts. What do you think, does that subset deserve to be homeless?
Ok, so there are plenty of people in the addicted population that chose to take recreational drugs as adults and got hooked. You suggest we hold them responsible. I guess, if that’s the line you want to take, go right ahead. So what if many of us choose to drink alcohol and are fortunate not to be addicts. Sweep those bums right out of here. And let me know what all that new-fangled responsibility accomplishes.
I was posing the question. I do fundamental believe people have agency and responsibility. I understand your point about the medical on ramps to addiction, but don’t know how much of our problems that accounts for.
Neither, it’s a disease
We’ve heard this all before though. I understand all the issues that go into homelessness. I don’t need to be constantly lectured about it by people who think they are smarter than everyone else, I just want to be able to ride my damn bike already.
The majority of those in places like this path are nothing but a string of bad choices. The big problem is that it’s not about helping them, it is about doing everything for them and holding their hand all the time.
The city needs to get to a level with social service funding and enforcement that homeless are either squeezed into services or squeezed out of town.
What’s happening with the city designated camping areas with bathrooms and trash cans? Seems like it has been in the works for years. Some cities are now using tuff sheds for housing in designated areas.
Meanwhile ODOT continues to put huge bolders under elevated sections of freway, so motorists don’t need to see the homeless during their commutes.
I have seen this problem advance over a long time in our city, from a downtown drugstore delivery boy in the 1950s to a bike-path user in the present. It is much worse now than it ever has been, even as Portland has grown larger, wealthier, progressive.
There are two primary ideologies driving it. I have explained them to our Council, receiving an ignorant and patronizing response. Here I’ll not say what they are. If one wants to know one should study matters as I do, reading the New York Times and watching the PBS News Hour, both of which are in the obsessive grip of compulsively destructive ideologues. Not the only compulsively destructive ideologues, to be sure, just the ones I choose to observe and analyze, and the ones that dominate our not-so-fair city.
It is from their ideologies that we must disenthrall ourselves.
I see a solution approaching, but a century over our horizon. Presently, I am encouraged by several of the young women recently elected to our national government. They are intelligent, forthright, pragmatic. They certainly are not capitalists and do not seem to be feminists; their great concern appears to be to promote the GENERAL welfare. Promoting the GENERAL welfare is a primary statement in the preamble of our Constitution.
Meanwhile, out here in Southeast, I ride my bike everywhere I can, like Madi.
I have a big issue with one of Chloe’s comments, and I think it speaks to hear of our city’s inaction on this issue: “People experiencing homelessness are our neighbors and community members. ”
…many, many of them are, but not every one of them.
There are thousands who are Oregon-raised, lived in Portland for years, and deserve our compassion and sympathy. There are a myriad of reasons why a person can become homeless, and many of them are systemic problems with our society. The majority of homeless in Portland need and deserve our compassion and assistance.
But not every one. We all know that there are people who move here from other states for our free services, or the cheap drugs, or the tolerant attitude towards living out in the open. Are these people who just show up at our door, many of them drug-addicted or unable to take care of themselves, our “neighbors and community members”? I’m personally not so sure. The fact that we lump together so many different individuals under the term “homeless” obscures our ability to help those who deserve help, and hinders our ability to weed out bad apples who come here to push drugs on our vulnerable population and make fools of the taxpayers here.
I think we need to figure out a more nuanced term, other than “homeless”, to discuss these urgent issues facing our city.
You have made an excellent point. There is a vast difference from the general term of homeless and junkie. Sometimes they line up together in a Venn diagram, but the services that our society has at its disposal tend to neglect those that fall into the latter category. Its those people that everyone is fed up with, and its those people that are not being serviced by our vast social services. The answer lies not in how to help the “down on their luck crew”, but in helping our addicts find a place to live. If we don’t do this, our addicts will continue to perpetuate petty crimes, defecate in our yards, and live under bridges as they do now. Its not as simple as kicking them out of the 205 bike path. See the Springwater trail for an example.
It is well documented that the more conservative cities bus their homeless up to more tolerant ones with better services.
What’s your plan for those that don’t “deserve” help?
Shipping them to more tolerant cities with better services.
A hobo passing through town sleeping on the sidewalk in front of your house is your neighbor and a member of your community for the time they’re staying.
So is the tourist from Texas staying at the Marriott.
Jonathan, I want to echo all of the “Don’t be so hard on yourself” comments. Yes, your video was co-opted by people who have a “What is it do you not understand about breaking the law?” attitude. But you called attention to an important situation and within days – Chloe’s condescending comment notwithstanding – the city addressed the problem. It is possible to have compassion for campers and still need a place to cycle. You have provided, and continue to provide, an important service to cyclists and we thank you!
I just have to say that as a bike rider that rides Springwater trail most weekdays, I’m always very glad that I am on a bike and can usually go swiftly past the people, and their “possessions” that are on and around the path. I’d hate to have to take the time to actually walk through the gauntlet. Also, once one gets into Gresham on Springwater trail most of the issues magically disappear. Can we learn anything from them? Maybe actually having the trails patrolled is a good idea?
Ok, I’ll be that guy in the room. And I’ll take the other side in this.
When choosing between having my pretty bike freeway (I ride the 205 path eeeevery week from Burnside to West Lynn, and dodge them just like everyone else) and having what is, essentially, the least troublesome place for them to pitch a tent (yeah, I said it) versus parks, your doorstep, in that field by your kids school, and the overpasses, then I choose for them to be largely unharassed on the Multi Use Path.
These are people trying not to die to environmental exposure or being too far from things like water and food. They’re pushed off the grid that is American Life in 2019, and they aren’t coming back. They have no credit score, no mailing address, cell phone number, drivers license and car, or email address. That grid is a one way ticket. And they are the unemployable caste.
In a way, we all did pay for a place for them. It just turns out the out of pocket/lifestyle sacrifice was on our part in the cycling community. They’re not just going to quietly toodle off into the woods and commit hari kari for society so we can wash our hands of this grim situation and stop clutching our pearls. So yeah, I choose to support the idea that this is about a more appropriate place where try to survive what became the wasteland of their lives versus my desire to have a lovely Sunday feel-good peddle session.
It’s a grimy, harsh situation. Stop pretending it’s going to gentrify itself. And maybe, just maybe, talk to some of them. Obviously, keep your wits about you. But you might be surprised how similar to you they are, and how easily you could find yourself in their shoes.
See, the thing is some of us the multi-use paths to actually get to and from work, not just “have a lovely Sunday feel-good peddle session.”, so it’s a lot more serious issue for us.
The city says they cleaned up the path 3.5 weeks from 3/21, which puts their previous cleanup date (assuming it was on a weekday) at 2/25. Less than a week later, this is how it was described in a comment of the week here:
“On Sunday March 3 I joined the 205 bike path at Prescott, heading north to go shopping at Target by the airport. Near the Sandy underpass there was a large encampment with guys stripping bike frames. The scary part was the encampment under Sandy. Homesteaders had their belongings spread over nearly all the entire bikeway, leaving a path just barely wide enough for my bike tire and pedals. Bike frames hung overhead and I had to duck to avoid being hit by the “inventory”. People were inside the tents. Propane tanks and then pure garbage abounds.”
We know it stayed in a similar state all the way through to the 18th, when Maus’ video was shot, and then on until the 21st when the city did another cleanup. That means there was a maximum of 6 days of clean path time out of a 26-day period, ie it was trashed for about 77% of the time in the timespan that it’s been definitively within the city’s purview for cleanup and not ODOT’s. An improvement on ODOT’s track record maybe, but not something I’d want to brag about; also it’s not really fair to blame ODOT for slow response times AFTER they’re no longer the ones responsible.
Alternate title: “From Fan to Hater in 464 Words.” I’m not involved with a parasitic entity like Facebook, so I don’t know or care what happened there, but that statement is condescending as heck. Like I’m 12 and just asked her “Mom, how come there are homeless people?” That wasn’t the question.
Anyway the “homeless” “problem” isn’t really “solvable,” but this incident does prove a couple of useful things:
– bicycle traffic is not dangerous; people can even live right on a bike path
– the city responds to bad press
Hmmm….Jonathan is doing a good thing getting the ear of the city on this. Ms. Eudalys response is underwhelming, probably increasingly more so the closer you live to the bike path or the more you use it.
As a lawyer my observation is this: Equality before the law is apparently out of fashion. If I were to threaten someone with a lethal weapon, or participate in a roving gang with intent to steal (at 91st on a quiet cul-de-sac my car was stolen for the second time hours after retrieving it from the first theft, person id’d not prosecuted) I would be busted big time.
This population is typically not prosecuted in any meaningful way. Current thinking is that is because they have a valid excuse (hard life, addiction, background of abuse).
The issue that comes with the territory is that this is inequality of treatment is inherently divisive. It requires agreement that these are in fact valid excuses and this a deep discussion of the concept of victimhood and the nature of free will.
If you steal someone’s car, or threaten them with a knife, or stab someone, there needs to be a consequence or you and your associates will feel free to do it more often.
I used to enjoy walking down the 205 path to see all the habitat restoration work along Johnson creek. And I used to enjoy my car also before it was stolen twice in one week.
Thanks Don. I agree 100%…we cannot continue to have a segment of our population that seemingly operates freely outside rule of law. Sorry these are not my “neighbors” as some people like to claim. Wheeler and Eudaly should resign.
In the meantime……can’t whoever is in charge of this city at least have a few rules & enforce those rules such as no camping “directly on” the bike path. I don’t think that is being mean to the homeless, unless I’m missing something.
And can’t the city officials at least make an effort to clean up the trash around this city. I bet some bored retired people would volunteer to clean up the trash if some city official would organize it. That’s also not being mean to the homeless, unless I’m missing something again.
These 2 things should fit somebody’s job description in this city & probably every city in America. Keep the city safe & clean. You don’t have to hurt anybody to do that.
A few ideas that could help in the short term:
1. Set up rules for the campers on the 205 and Springwater. No tents, carts, or possessions within 3 feet of the path. Post the new rules all along the right of way.
2. PPB and Multnomah County Sheriff start running motorcycle patrols along these MUPs. These officers are not there to hassle or crackdown on campers rather, to enforce the aforementioned rules and they will act as a deterrent to those that would seek to do harm, sell drugs, etc. along the paths. They just do the basic law enforcement functions done on regular streets and roads.
3. Create multiple safe camping zones around town with access to services and transit. This gets the campers out of neighborhoods and away from conflict zones. Police can better monitor/protect the homeless population and social services can be delivered more efficiently to the campers. Once 10-12 of these zones are created, funded, and staffed around the city, then camping on the MUPs, in neighborhoods, and in business districts will be outlawed.
We should make reasonable accommodations and efforts to help but, throwing our arms in the air and blaming greater forces is not helping anyone. Sadly, Eudaly’s feckless response is typical of Portland’s leaders these days. I’m shocked that she neglected to toss in The Illuminati, the Rothchilds, and Amazon.com for good measure. I have to laugh when the city council blames business and real estate developers for the problem but, they are all too happy to trumpet high wage skilled jobs moving to Portland from elsewhere (Thank you, tax incentives!) and eagerly cut ribbons for the TV cameras at new boutique hotels and luxury condo towers.
I like the idea of posting the rules in regards to proximity to the path……I’d say more like 20 feet which is just like 4 steps. Since there seems to be no solution right now, & no way to tell the struggling people from the bad people then just let them live their lives as long as they follow the rules. There’s nothing wrong with that. Hopefully there is a better solution to help those struggling & to get rid of those that are just bad people, but for now just have at least a few rules to follow.
As a business owner with camps barely 100 feet from her door I have learned quite a bit about homelessness in the past 5 years and one thing I can say with certainty is that if you haven’t lived on the streets you barely understand the issue. So the comments passing judgement of who is out there, how they live, and how they should behave, feels most out of touch with reality.
I’m saddened a bit by the “othering” some posts on this string exhibit. We are talking about people here! They have names, they have souls (according to my belief system), they have dreams, and they have fears too. They are no lesser (or better) than we are but unfortunately are being treated very inhumanely, both out on the streets and in some of the comments here. Yes, there are some dangerous, threatening folks living on the streets (and bike paths) but that is not the case for ALL of them. In my experience the majority are not dangerous, and in fact they too are victims of theft and violence perpetrated by the few thugs and gangs that are out there.
A few years back there was a campaign to give cyclists a face because it was theorized that would reduce the “them vs us” of motorist vs bicyclist interactions. I propose that the readers here who choose to demonize all of the campers perhaps think about how that strategy could be applied to those camping in this city. Stop and meet one or two, talk to them human to human. Listen to their stories. Put a face (or faces) on the issue.
True, multi-use paths are not the right place to set up a home BUT as stated in this article, this is a very complicated issue and getting these people stable housing or even camping locations is not easy. It’s my opinion that the government (city, state, federal) does not have the capacity to solve the problem alone. If we don’t like what’s going on we are the ones that need to take action, we can’t wait for CoP to do “something”. Until more of us step in to help, this problem will persist. There are plenty of great organizations and individuals doing just that, and some by bike I might add (eg. Street Books, Portland Street Medicine). But, we have to start by no longer stereotyping or de-humanizing the people that are out there.
Thank you, bArbaroo!!
I think half of the negative & inhumane comments would go away if the city would just have a few rules that they enforce. I understand a lot of these people need help, but just because you are sick or need assistance doesn’t mean you can do whatever the hell you want. Don’t camp “directly on” the bike path. If you have trash all around your campsite then clean it up (and the city should enforce this & provide garbage cans or pay someone to help to clean it up). That’s not cruel to suggest those 2 things, and it would greatly reduce the negative comments. There’s a big difference between riding down a bike path swerving around shelters & garbage & unstable people vs riding down the bike path with people camped a few feet away. The 2nd option is much safer for all, and it’s in no way cruel to the homeless.
I agree with you about rights-of-way being inappropriate places to camp. When people are continually swept off of public and private property (lots not pathways) the result is that the place that remains for them is trails and sidewalks. Though I think it’s not ideal I see how they got there and that it will only result in them being subject to a sweep. Sadly the practice relocating camps can indeed be cruel;
1. it upsets the pecking order and the thuggier campers who get swept then bully more vulnerable campers for premium camping spots. Sweeps achieve a great deal of chaos and violence. While they may also achieve the objective of clearing a sidewalk or path, that is usually temporary and the cycle continues as nauseam. I call it stirring the peas. Moving the peas around on the plate does not remove them from the plate.
2. I’ve seen sweeps occur during the onset of a major snowstorm. This past February as the first snowflakes began falling several non-violent campers where swept from an area where they were not causing any trouble -not impeding rights of way, not disrupting local businesses or other residents, not on private property.
3. I’ve seen pregnant women loose all of their belongings when their camp is swept (tent and bedding all taken away) while they are at a clinic.
As for cleaning up the garbage. I admit, this is what frustrates me most near my business as besides being counter to creating an inviting feel in the neighborhood, often their debris blows over to my door in the wind. But, that is complicated too. Many campers have a scarcity mindset so they collect stuff or are given things by well meaning people. They end up with stuff they can’t use and they can’t dispose of it because they don’t have a weekly garbage service. On a similar note, sanitation is a huge issue. I could write paragraphs about that but suffice to say I agree with you and I would like to see the CoP help address this by providing more garbage and sanitary services near camps.
none of the unsavory individuals i encounter staking their claims under the Steel and Burnside Bridges, by Union Station, and surrounding the sidewalks by the 7-11 on 4th come across as remotely vulnerable. i particularly do not cotton to the vulnerable tag applying to the various gatherings of scrappers who threaten me with stabbings and beatings from their territorial perspective at the 4th Ave Smartpark exit on an alarmingly regular basis. Methinks Eudaly does not actually walk the streets of Portland?
This seems like a specious argument. *Every* group of people, however we choose to classify the group, will include a range of individuals, sub-classifications. No one I don’t think is arguing that all homeless are vulnerable; but in the rush to judge “the homeless” as miscreants, thieves, predators—which unfortunately still seems alive and well here in the bikeportland comments, not to mention Nextdoor—those who *are* vulnerable get trampled.
Why is it so hard to hold two perspectives simultaneously in one’s head: many who are homeless are vulnerable, much like us, harmless, worthy of concern, assistance, compassion, AND, some who are homeless exhibit criminal tendencies, prey on others…?
This urge to grab the broad brush every time homelessness comes up is so frustrating.
I will paint with a pretty broad brush…
The piles and piles and piles of garbage and needles are not just a “few” or “some”.
It is approaching thousands and they are trashing this city.
3 million dollars last year to pick up after these “vulnerable” souls…
I and a lot of others are just done…..
You can be ‘done’ all you want. Luckily those in charge recognize that what seem like simple solutions to you are neither.
Tax alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages 10 cents and funnel that money into drug treatment centers. Its that easy.
>>> Why is it so hard to hold two perspectives simultaneously in one’s head: many who are homeless are vulnerable, much like us, harmless, worthy of concern, assistance, compassion, AND, some who are homeless exhibit criminal tendencies, prey on others…? <<<
Three perspectives: AND those without a fixed address are still members of our society, which means, among other things, cleaning up after oneself.
As a fellow housed, employed, mentally healthy, cis-het white male that sort of exhortation is easy enough to toss out there. And it seems reasonable. But I have learned that there are limits to how easily I can (or should) decree what others, who do not share all or any of the above, should, of course, hold themselves .
bArbaroo above gave some pretty thoughtful descriptions of what life for the homeless she has observed or gotten to know is like. And I have developed some of my own second hand impressions.
I held a job with the City of Portland where I interacted with the homeless on a daily basis. I saw first hand these sites, I was up close and personal. I knocked on tents, RVs, cars, and vans. I spoke with these individuals, I observed their camps, I called services for help. I tell you, after doing it for a year, I couldn’t anymore. There was a distinct difference between the folks who wanted to help themselves and the folks who were, and for the lack of better words, a lost cause. These were the people who had fried their brains so much that even if they were ever to get clean, I don’t know if they could function outside a group home. These are the people some of us our commenting about, who are trashing the bike trails and surrounding environment, and frankly, whom our compassion has run out for. I think we can all agree that a single mother with her daughter, living in their car, needs a tremendous amount of help, our compassion extends deeply to these people in need.
“I don’t know if they could function outside a group home.”
I agree. But instead of putting our heads together to figure out how to get those people into group homes folks here (seem to) delight in piling on the hateful invective.
No one is being hateful here….
You have zero answer for this problem except the same old cliches about the vulnerable
A lot of people have proposed solutions but you seem stuck acting like the people on the streets now are what they were 5 or 10 years ago.
This is a whole new class of campers… I could care less about the tents although I think the city should ban tent camping. Beaverton has..
The hauling around and dumping garbage everywhere has to end.
Human beings can pick up after themselves, I don’t care what their problems are.
This is the most entitled bunch of people I have ever seen. Expecting to camp anywhere,
leave garbage everywhere.. who are you feeling sorry for?
I proposed this earlier, tax alcoholic, sugary drinks, and bottled water ten cents. Funnel all the money into treatment programs.
People whose lives are out of control need rules and structure more than anyone. Leaving people to live in Thunderdome conditions on the street is not compassionate to them or to the rest of us. On the flipside, making sure everyone living on the streets in Portland gets the help they need will only mean more desperate people coming to Portland for help, and we can’t afford that.
Just because Portland doesn’t have the resources to end homelessness for the entire country, that doesn’t mean we have no right to keep our community clean and safe. Go to an al anon meeting and listen to them describe codependency. Portland is codependent. That means we’re destroying ourselves and we are not even helping the people we supposedly feel such great self-sacrificing compassion for.
I second Steve–we need controlled, well-monitored, clean designated camping areas and they should be in areas that are convenient for those of us who will be paying for them. Criminals who victimize both the homeless and the rest of us should be screened out and jailed. Camping should not be allowed anywhere else in the city, and areas that tend to attract campers should be policed and camps cleared away before they can establish.
For those who are not aware, here is an idea that may interest you. It’s also a way for people to get involved to affect change in our community. https://news.streetroots.org/2019/03/29/city-needs-budget-portland-street-response
Rode the path yesterday, Sunday July 12, 2020. Burnside to Stark is the worst with needles lying directly in the path and it is rank with urine. Tents are directly covering the path and along with possessions, the trail is reduced to about 12″ wide for a bike to squeak by. Between Stark and Lents, there is broken glass in multiple areas that is unavoidable to ride across. I opted to ride in traffic on the way home as the lesser of two hazards.
In the long run, voters showed their “frustration” with Eudaly’s unacceptable response. They were “disappointed” with her “misinformation” and have no “compassion” for her loss!