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

PBOT: Suck it Up, Unhappy PDX Drivers Citywide

Bolt Bus reduces Everett to 1 lane during rush hour
Bolt Bus reduces NW Everett to one lane during rush hour

The folks who live and work around the North Park Blocks keep getting the cold shoulder from Portland’s Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Novick and his Bureau of Transportation.

For months we’ve documented how Bolt Bus turned a quiet historic park into a bus depot. We were startled when PBOT suggested we suck it up since drivers all over Portland are frustrated.

Cevero Gonzalez, constituent services coordinator for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, wrote us that “PBOT has not documented any increased safety impacts as a result of the Bolt Bus location,” … “Double parking and impatient motorists are problematic in all neighborhoods citywide.”

We invite Commissioner Novick and Mr Gonzalez to spend some time with us and watch the logjam and traffic violations created by Bolt Bus’ 40+ daily stops at NW Everett and Broadway.

Each Bolt Bus drops off up to 50 passengers (with baggage) who get picked up by double-parked drivers. Add to that another 50 passengers waiting on the sidewalk to board the next bus.  Without access to restrooms or cover from inclement weather they  seek shelter or a restroom by approaching businesses in the neighborhood.  Many huddle beneath overhangs in near-by buildings. At times more than 100 people (with baggage) block the sidewalk, making it nearly impossible for pedestrians to get through.

Simple solution – get Bolt Bus out of our historic park and let them use nearby Greyhound bus station (at NW 6th and Hoyt)

Read all about it in the Northwest Examiner.
Click headline below BoltBus Creates Logjam (August 2016)
2.5mb pdf

NW examiner Aug 2016