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
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.
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.”
Remedy Wine Bar featured huge windows that overlooked the North Park Blocks. A park-side location should be an asset to a gracious wine bar. But not when it’s adjacent to a space that city neglect has turned into a de facto homeless encampment.
Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz lacks an appreciation for public perceptions of safe and livable spaces. In a KGW interview she stated “Every neighborhood in Portland will be asked to find a spot to put a homeless camp.”
We wonder what’s ahead for Portland in 2016.
Pearl District Wine Bar Leaving Neighborhood Because of Homeless People From Willamette Week 1/20/2016 by Matthew Korfhage
Pearl District wine bar Remedy, at the edge of the North Park Blocks on Broadway and Everett, is closing after three years.
Owner Michael Madigan says the problem is the neighbors.
Specifically, he believes that city sweeps of camps on the east side last June caused the houseless population to explode near his wine bar, and that the city has made a “conscious decision” not to solve the crime and drug use he says had become a problem in his neighborhood.
“One day last June when the city swept the inner Southeast,” he says, “Everybody showed up on the North Park Blocks. It was literally overnight.”
The city of Portland conducted a series of sweeps of east-side encampments beginning in May 2015.
“I counted 42 people between Everett and Flanders,” says Madigan, who is also owner of KitchenCru commissary space, CorksCru wine shop, and Bowery Bagels. “It had an immediate impact.”
Madigan says his business was down this summer by a significant margin year-over-year, after gains in the springtime.
He says that the problem was the crime he and his employees consistently observed near his wine bar, a second story space looking out on the park blocks that serves $15 wine flights, along with kale Caesar salad, and cheese and charcuterie plates including a $35 five-charcuterie platter.
Madigan says area hotels stopped sending customers to his neighborhood, and that the city was ineffectual in stopping drug use nearby, even when the city parked a police van outside the area. Remedy was named after a hundred-year-old pharmacy that once occupied the building.
“It was like the an episode of The Wire,” Madigan says of the North Park Blocks area. “As soon as the cops left, the drugs and the crime showed up again.”
He also says that people frequently urinated in the stairs that lead up to his wine bar.
“Every day those stairs are used as a latrine. There are public restrooms two blocks,” he says. “I remember asking people why. Why aren’t you going to those restrooms? They said, ‘The drug dealers won’t let us in.'”
Madigan says he talked to a police lieutenant about enforcing laws against camping, and smoking in parks, but that police were unable to do so.
“‘There’s a no smoking ordinance,'” Madigan says he told a police lieutenant. “‘Why aren’t you citing them for smoking?’ We were told that only park-rangers can cite people for park related ordinances.”
Local business owners took to documenting evidence of lawlessness on a website, northparkblocks.org. and formed an organization led by Michelle Cardinal—an owner of multiple properties and founder of boutique ad-firm R2C—to lobby the mayor and City Council.
“We took pictures of people having public sex in the parks,” he says. “One of our employees took a picture of a dealer injecting drugs into someone’s neck.”
In response to a video Cardinal produced, Mayor Hales and Commissioner Fritz visited the neighborhood, and the Oregonian published a series of articles documenting the “summer of lawlessness” in the park blocks. But Madigan says that this did not give him the results he needed to stay in the neighborhood.
He plans to re-open Remedy in an undisclosed space, after declining to renew his lease for an additional four years.
Glyph art cafe, also on the North Park Blocks, closed last September, citing similar concerns, although former owner Sandra Comstock said she believed that the situation had improved by the beginning of September. Madigan says the same, but that he thinks it will worsen again.
“When we moved in we knew the neighborhood was transitional,” he says. “We said all right, this will be a good thing to do.”
The last day of business at Remedy wine bar will be January 30.
Hayley Purdy can’t figure out why police officers bike, drive and walk by the social chaos she lives with on the North Park Blocks and do virtually nothing.
Throughout the summer Purdy and her neighbors documented the increasing disorder in their part of downtown. They watched the proliferation of illegal campsites and the garbage piling up and they’ve had a few angry confrontations with squatters over broad daylight drug dealing.
Daryl Turner says he knows why. The Portland Police union chief says street officers have been walking by situations involving illegal homeless camping and sidewalk obstruction when in years past they would have taken action. And that’s because city officials refuse to provide police with clear direction and support in dealing with the growing number of homeless people who violate city ordinances, according to Turner.
By William Russell – Executive Director of Union Gospel Mission reposted from Oregonian 9/24/15
On Sept. 23, Mayor Charlie Hales declared a “homeless state of emergency,” with plans to aggressively combat homelessness in Portland. The announcement felt surreal, as if someone were announcing in 2015 that President Obama had won the 2012 election, or reading a “breaking news” story about the 1969 moon landing in 1972. Well before the mayoral pronouncement, we at Union Gospel Mission have been living the homeless state of emergency. I am confident this is true for many other agencies working hard to help this population.