Oregon bill would allow people to camp in parks

This proposed state law would turn our city and state parks into  camps. It even includes a provision that would make it illegal to remove personal belongings that people might leave behind.

Contact your city, county and state representatives and tell them that while homelessness is NOT a crime, our parks were NOT designed to shelter people in camps. Portland needs affordable housing. Warehousing people in our parks is not the answer.

The photo above was taken in the North Park Blocks ~ Summer August 2015.

Reposted from KOIN 6

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new bill aimed at decriminalizing homeless camping in public spaces has already drawn harsh criticism from locals who are worried about growing camps in their neighborhoods.

But supporters of House Bill 2215, otherwise known as the Oregon Right to Rest Act, say people should have the chance to sleep anywhere that isn’t private property.

“Why do we have to fight to sleep when it’s a human right?” homeless advocate Ibrahim Mubarak asked.

HB 2215 would allow homeless people to use public spaces freely “without discrimination and in time limitations that are based on housing status.”

It would also ensure those camping on public property wouldn’t be subject to “harassment, citation or arrest by law enforcement officers, public or private security personnel or employees of local governments.” If passed, the bill would make it nearly impossible for law enforcement to sweep camps.

Mubarak is in favor of HB 2215. He thinks homeless people in the area should be allowed to sleep in public spaces like city parks with little to no recourse.

“If they get housing for everybody, this problem wouldn’t exist,” he said.

While some opponents agree — and want to see the homeless better served — they say pop up encampments in parks near homes and schools aren’t the solution.

“It frees the city or the state from having to deal with the homelessness problem,” East Portland resident David Potts, who opposes the bill, said. “You really don’t have to create any housing for them if you’ve just made it state law that they can camp in any place.”

Another part of the bill that’s concerning to some has to do with protecting homeless people’s belongings. Residents are concerned that if people abandon their tents, shopping carts and other property, not much could be done to clean it up.

So far, HB 2215 has only been introduced in the House.

North Park Blocks to Host “Sleeping Pods” Exhibit

Click image to enlarge

The North Park Blocks is proud to be selected to host a display of more than a dozen attractive, innovative, and portable “sleeping pods” in downtown Portland—many of them created by premier Portland architecture firms. Partners On Design (POD) Initiative is a collection of architects, design students, and others, all bringing their best ideas for small structures the public might accept in their neighborhoods.

Using $35,500 in city funding, and leveraging ideas from some of Portland’s top design minds, the effort has been working since early October toward an exhibition in the city’s North Park Blocks from December 9 to 11 at the north end of the blocks near PNCA.  In all, 14 innovative prototypes will be on display.

See more at Portland Mercury Advocates Are Making Their Strongest Pitch Yet for New Homeless Villages

Terminal 1 or Wapato: Better Than Dying on PDX Streets

Day Campers on North Park Blocks ~ Aug 2015
Day Campers on North Park Blocks ~ Aug 2015

The sad truth is that the down trodden sleep on our streets with no treatment or protection and people are increasing dying. Our current policies are not working. We need more shelter beds and a consistent street policy to eradicate unregulated, unsanitary and unsafe street camping. Terminal One or Wapato – are real impactful solutions – big enough to make a measurable impact, giving people a roof and safe haven for sleep and nourishment. The argument that a large shelter concept would be warehousing homeless is the least of our worries when people are dying on our streets. ~ Michelle Cardinal

From: 88 Homeless People Died on Portland-Area Streets Last Year by Rachel Monahan, Willamette Week, Sept 9, 2016

The number of homeless people who died in Multnomah County rose sharply in 2015—to 88, up from 56 the year before.

That’s the highest number of deaths since the county and the Street Roots newspaper began compiling the data in 2011 for a report entitled “Domicile Unknown.”

It’s may be a first, official indication that the number of homeless Portlanders has risen sharply since the last count in January 2015.

The lack of affordable housing is a contributing factor, says Street Roots executive director Israel Bayer.

“We’re not getting people into housing at a quick enough pace to save the lives of people who are elderly and vulnerable,” says Bayer. “There are more people on the streets because we’re not moving people inside.”

Using the same method since 2011, the county has tallied the number of deaths investigated by the medical examiners’ office.

In all, 17 homeless women died in 2015, up from four in 2014. The number of African-Americans rose to 10 from seven. The number of homicides rose from one to five. Women died at an average age of 41; men at an average age of 50.

Drugs or alcohol contributed to 44 deaths in 2015, up from 31 in 2014. Deaths related to heroin or other opiates remained relatively flat: 19 in 2014, 22 in 2015.

As in years’ past, roughly an equal number of homeless died from April through September and October through March.

Here’s a link to the report.

Portland Homeless Crisis Sows Dissent in Tolerant City

Day Campers in front of Emerson School NPB ~ July 2015
Day Campers in front of Emerson School NPB ~ July 2015

Reprinted from ABC news Gillian Flaccus, AP — Sep 7, 2016 Link

There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.

Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.

“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”

The city is booming, and the homeless are more visible than ever before. Skyrocketing rents, cripplingly low vacancy rates and a severe shortage of affordable housing are forcing Portland to re-examine its live-and-let-live attitude in a place where residents have long been tolerant of everything but intolerance.

And in a city where the mayor says “unhoused” instead of homeless and where tent camps have names like Dignity Village and Right 2 Dream Too instead of Skid Row and The Jungle, residents are wondering if Portland needs to rethink its strategy as a permanent solution seems ever-more elusive.

“The city doesn’t have a coherent approach to … really enforcing any type of rules about where people can camp,” said Chris Trejbal, who lives near a homeless camp called Hazelnut Grove.

“It’s been a disaster. There’s no leadership.”

The issue peaked this year when Portland declared a homeless state of emergency and Mayor Charlie Hales made it legal to sleep on city streets.

At the same time, Portland welcomed 1,000 new residents a month and the average rent has increased about $100 a month. The metropolitan area needs 24,000 more affordable housing units; vacancy rates are some of the lowest in the nation.

“It’s white hot, people want to move here and live here, as well they should. It’s an amazing city . but our zoning and our planning process is really behind the curve in terms of providing flexible and affordable living arrangements,” said Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler. “It has not caught up with the new reality.”

Part of that reality is the nearly 1,900 unsheltered people who camp from Portland’s downtown core to its rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods to the forested areas along the urban fringe. A one-night count last year found the overall number of homeless people hasn’t increased significantly, but the number of chronically homeless has risen steadily to make up about half of the total population.

Portland has earmarked $250 million for affordable housing and has a $250 million housing bond on the November ballot.

The city has also joined forces with Multnomah County to tackle the crisis head-on with $43 million in funding; leaders in a new coalition want to cut homelessness by half in three years.

Yet there is a potent belief that the city isn’t doing enough because homelessness suddenly seems everywhere.

There aren’t enough short-term beds while Portland works at long-term solutions. When one camp is shut down, another pops up.

After letting up to 500 homeless people live for months along a 21-mile bike trail in southeast Portland, the city cracked down and last week uprooted a network of tents, some of them stuffed with armchairs and couches.

Neighbor LaDawna Booze had called police repeatedly to report drug use, theft and excessive noise there.

“I haven’t been out in my own yard in a few years. I feel like I’m watched everywhere,” she said. “It’s changed my life.”

Booze isn’t alone. The issue was a constant in this spring’s mayoral campaign and it dominates the local news. Since June, 5,000 people have called a hotline to complain about homeless camps, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Hales, who dropped out of the race for re-election, has struggled to find a common ground between upset business leaders and homeowners and homeless advocates, who feel the city is shuttling the homeless around with no plan.

He was sued after announcing his “safe sleep” policy, but the city was sued again last month after commissioners voted to proceed with plans to turn a vacant industrial warehouse into a 400-bed homeless shelter.

Suggestions to house the unsheltered in a mothballed jail have been slammed for symbolically criminalizing homelessness but a state land use board killed a plan last week to move a city-sanctioned tent village to industrial land.

“You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t so you’d better ‘do,’ because no good deed goes unpunished when it comes to homelessness,” said Hales, who ended the ‘safe sleep’ policy after six months.

Those on the streets are craving answer as the cold and rain of a Portland winter approach.

Deitra Schmer moved into an RV when the city swept the Springwater Corridor. She has nowhere else to go and says she couldn’t keep her job as a certified nursing assistant because she had no stability.

“You can’t move every 10 days or every three days and keep your job. It just doesn’t work,” she said. “Not to have to worry about where I’m going to lay my head — that’s my biggest issue.”

Join Us for ‘Connect The Park Blocks’ Street Fair

Oregon Walkways on the ‘Green Loop’

August 20
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Park Avenue from NW Hoyt to SW Market

See our event on Facebook

Connect the Park Blocks is a one-day open street fair route along NW and SW Park Ave – from NW Hoyt to SW Market. This event will allow people to walk, stroll, jog, and visit local business between the North and South Park Blocks and be clear of parked cars and vehicle traffic. We envision a Park Avenue that is an active space open and welcome to everyone. This project will also promote the Green Loop concept. Join Better Block PDX, Oregon Walks and the Green Loop Project to increase foot traffic and build community! RSVP here

Contact Volunteer.betterblockpdx@gmail.com to get involved!

Click image below to enlarge

Connect the blocks