City Ignores Old Town Concerns About New Shelter

Reposted from Old Town Chinatown Community Association doesn’t want city’s proposed homeless shelter by Lyndsey Hewitt Portland Tribune Sept 20, 2017 Link

The Old Town Chinatown Community Association has one word for the city and county’s proposed 200-bed homeless shelter at Northwest Hoyt and Northwest Third Avenue: Nope.

The city plans to proceed despite the association’s lack of support and objections from many community organizations.

Read Old Town Chinatown Community Association’s letter to city and county

Note: There are currently seven homeless shelters and centers in the Old Town Chinatown area alone. An agreement called the No Net Gain agreement was established to mitigate adding more services there.

OTCTCA say they recognize that the city is in a homeless crisis, but that overconcentration of homeless services in that district — which has the highest number of homeless individuals sleeping on its streets on a given night, at around 350 — poses a detrimental impact to the neighborhood, inviting crime and a negative effect on business and tourism.

“As you saw in our presentation during the September 6th meetings, Old Town Chinatown has the highest crime-rate concentration in all of Portland. You also heard the feedback from our residents that they are not just fearful for their lack of safety and security, but are pleading with the City for more support after having a neighbor recently stabbed to death, watching open drug deals on our streets, and the recent drive-by shooting on NW 4th and Everett,” the statement reads.

Our neighborhood knows first-hand the unintended consequences of services and shelters being over concentrated in a single area. The issue is not with those receiving services or seeking shelter, but rather with those who prey on vulnerable populations. Drug dealers, sex traffickers, and gangs often target those seeking services, resulting in a confluence of chaos and lawless behavior. In the midst of this chaos, businesses continue to try and operate, tourists visit and watch in shock, and Clean & Safe and Portland Police attempt to respond to the countless calls they receive to this one neighborhood. Homeless people are some of our City’s most vulnerable, and are frequent victims of violence and lawless behavior. Until there is a sizeable decrease in crime in Old Town Chinatown, it is irresponsible for the City to propose that 200 new permanent shelter beds be located here. Consider these statistics that can be found on portlandmaps.com for 203 NW 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR:

  • From August 2016 – August 2017, the average Person Crimes total for Old town Chinatown was 252 incidents. The city average is 2.
  • From August 2016 – August 2017, the average Property Crimes total for Old town Chinatown was 511 incidents. The city average is 15.
  • From August 2016 – August 2017, the average Society Crimes total for Old town Chinatown was 329 incidents. The city average is 2.

But the biggest reason for their resounding no is linked to previous promises made between the city and Old Town/Chinatown associates — the No Net Gain agreement, a deal made back in the 1980s to prevent more homeless services concentration there.

“That is inconsistent with everything the City has told us over the years. It is hypocritical to continue concentrating high-needs, homeless individuals in this neighborhood using the circular reasoning that there are already services here that they need to access, and it is irresponsible to continue steering vulnerable people into the lowest-income, highest crime area of the City,” their letter reads.

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