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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 29, 2010 8:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was A blogger's dilemma. The next post in this blog is A small mind. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

A hat check girl for the freeway ramp guys

It's hard to know exactly what to make of this. The City of Portland is going to provide storage for homeless people's shopping carts and their contents. Along with Fireman Randy's wonder-toilets and the huge "resource center" being built by the Greyhound station, the storage deal shows the compassion of Portland for our fellow travelers who are down on their luck.

But.

At some point, all these services will likely become an attraction for homeless people from other places. And we doubt that Portland really wants to become any more of a magnet for street folks than it already is, does it? Where is that tipping point, and are we anywhere near it?

Comments (45)

Randy is busy designing a cart for the homeless. The Loos will be modified to support docking with the cart. MAX cars will have cart ports. Pearlies will steal the carts for works of art.

We already are a homeless haven. I was gone for 3 years and stayed downtown recently, and I couldnt believe the number of homeless hipster kids downtown. Its at least 4x the number of a few years ago.

Its cool to be homeless in portland.

So the city will store stolen property (shopping carts) for people? Wow, this and the non prosecution of shoplifting under $250, they will need a lot of space. When is it when the majority of the populace will really start to question the sanity of our leaders, and ask "who's side is the city council really on?"

One more thing: It's obvious we're making this city the best place for homeless. What do you think happens when this word gets out?

I don't think we're going as far as San Francisco, which until a few years ago actually paid stipends to homeless people. Investing more in our mental health and addictions-treatment programs would go a long way towards reducing the number of homeless; right now, the cops and courts are the counselors and care providers of last resort, and we know how lethally that can turn out sometimes . . .

Stealing a shopping cart used to be a crime. I guess they decriminalized it. When I read about those lockers a month ago it just reaffirmed moving my business out of downtown. What Randy, Fish and the homeless advocates don’t understand is their actions are just enabling homeless people in this town to stay homeless. What a bunch of idiots.

I think the money would be better spent on mental health facilities for the homeless.

Jack, you have asked a "not political correct" question. But truthfully it has been a question that most Portlanders have been internally asking for over a decade as the endless procession and concession of homeless attractors have been descending on our city.

One of the first notable examples is the decade old Dignity Village that congealed the previous attention gathering programs/events such as Michael Stoops helping the homeless (while also sexually assaulting under-aged teens).

The Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness began in 2004, and there were plans before that. Your question is valid and needs discussion to be fair. Some kinds of programs being providers to homelessness could be just as detrimental as being inhibitors.

This probably eases up the sheer inconvenience of homelessness. That in itself would be a selling point to come to Portland for transients harboring in less friendly cities. I see it as a significant risk to already scarce resources. Newcomers will gravitate to the city for this service. They will in turn increase demands on the entire low income support system others in the "homed" and homeless community are depending on.

Homeless?

Wait...weren't there supposed to be 'extra-low income housing' as part of the whole SoWhat debacle? But they backed out? And now there are units sitting empty?

I think that the developers should be required to open all unoccupied units to the homeless during the coming winter.

Two birds, one stone.

Hey....

I ride the bus past the 6th & Caruthers station regularly. The other day, the panhandler working that station had stepped back from the curb to engage in a cellphone conversation.

It made me think that if I gave money, he'd only waste it on minutes.

I just got my property tax bill. I'm going to need this new service for the contents of my house. Thanks, SamRand!

Here is one for the waste your money train. A young (pretty) woman has claimed the offramp of I-5 South at Alberta. She has perfected the sad and downtrodden look. Several times she has been next to me at the New Seasons deli... buying cooked flat iron steak and stuffed portabello mushrooms. Both items are a bit over priced for my budget, but then I pay taxes so Fireman Randy can have a fancy new loo with a 5 minute shower timer.
I miss Mildred

I thought we had a program to shoot those people, or beat them to death.

I have no idea what the numbers look like in Portland, but I will say that the "we're making _______ (city) a destination for the homeless!" thing is something I've heard in EVERY city where I've lived. It's just a common refrain you hear from people, and doesn't ever really seem tied to any particular set of facts.

Jack captured my quick reaction to the story, but I would add a suggestion: that the redemption centers for cans, plastic and glass bottles now accept stolen grocery carts which in turn can be recycled at Dignity Village.

Dave J., it might be a "common refrain from people", but our own media Portland Tribune, on July 10, 2009 headlined, "Oregon Leads Nation in Homeless Count". But they could be wrong, and all their statistics.

According to her peers, it was Schwab’s tight-fisted approach to municipal fiscal matters that made her one of the most popular city commissioners ever. "I think the first time they called me a nitpicker was when I found a $10 million error in the budget," she said once. "If that’s nitpicking, leave me to it."
I miss her too Julie.

So when's SamRandGoldschmitty gonna start painting shopping cart lanes in the streets? (Probably when Sam's house id foreclosed on the year after he's out of office).

Go by wobble wheels!

Julie, I've often wondered about the young woman on the I-5 southbound off ramp at Alberta St. She certainly has perfected the sullen, homeless look. Flat Iron steak and stuffed portabello mushrooms from New Seasons? What the hell! My dining experience there has been limited to a roll and cup of soup. The fancy stuff is just too overpriced for me.

Poverty is a symptom of a much larger problem with the way we treat our mentally ill, veterans and old people.

Those hipster kids who have middle class parents are tourists, we should charge them camping fees.

"would not accept shopping carts that had the names of stores on them" = beat and bash off the plastic part with the store name = Stolen and now worthless.

The best solution to homelessness is to stop Outside/In projects.

Another solution is to get rid of the deposit on bottles, or make it so that the big blue recycling things are lockable.

Nowadays the homeless are particularly bold in my neighborhood, and I regularly watch them from my window walk UP into driveways, look over fences, and open the recycling bins.

It's clear, from reading the Tribune article, that some bothersome details have not yet been ironed out and that the Pollyannas have brushed them aside to worry about later. Questions such as: What about grocery carts which have been "appropriated" and cost retailers hundreds of dollars apiece to replace? How long is the facility going to hold onto this stuff before insisting that the owner remove it or quit adding to it? Apparently nobody's going to check the stuff for anything dangerous or stolen so who's responsible if someone gets hurt or somebody else's property destroyed? What about the inevitable bedbugs, lice and other filth that may present in some of the carts? How will the homeless reclaim their belongings? If given a ticket, won't a lot of them lose it before coming back and then what can they do to prove that one shopping cart among dozens "belongs" to them?

As long as a shopping cart is traceable to a store (and some stores have gone to engraving parts on the carts) the offender "using" it can be charged with Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property, because the offenders will always tell the cops that they "found it."

Portland's priorities are so goofed up, and as usual the tax payer is the one who gets shafted!

By the way it's ORS 164.065. http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/164.html

Funny, I just got a property tax bill Monday morning for my storage space in my building, gotta love redistribution!

"...Likely become an attraction for homeless people?"

That may have been a prescient observation 15 years ago: we ARE the homeless Mecca of the Western U.S., there's no maybe about it.

I just got spang'd three times in two blocks. And walked past more seemingly "homeless" than not.

The professional beggars and life-long leeches really go nuts if you casually peel off a couple hundred dollar bills of Monopoly money and hand them out with a smile.

YMMV. But I'm fairly big and for some reason enjoy confrontation with the worthless. Perhaps it's all those years of beggars with more expensive boots than mine demanding heroin money from me while I'm at work, while I'm living off of tuna mac and paying exorbitant tax bills.

Ah...it feels so good to no longer be extorted to fund the idiocy of your laughingstock sewer city.

Please, expand these programs. There are thousands more professional bums we will cheerfully send your way.

Having cleaned up after the homeless on numerous occasions at our properties, I can state with certainty that the " belongings" are not fit to be "stored" without first fumigation, at the very least.
We have thrown all sorts of stuff into our dumpsters and wondered if it would even be collected it was so foul.
This will be a real mess and a rather expensive failure. Another Portland city fiasco.

I don't know how I feel about this one.

I guess it's okay because those shopping carts are damn annoying. But, does it make Portland attractive to the homeless because of it? Remember, there's something called the internet nowadays, and forums directed towards homeless populations.

Anything like this needs to be done in conjunction with getting more done on sit-lie laws. A person simply cannot block the passage of a sidewalk by sitting on it, it's dangerous!

I'm okay with Portland making these types of concessions for the homeless with at least some realization that rampant homelessness is not good for anyone -- including those on the street. More mental health and drug treatment centers are needed...badly. Start by taxing alcohol more?

Also, Portland isn't going to save any more money by locking the homeless up for petty crimes like stealing a shopping cart. We can arrest as many homeless as we want. James Chasse anyone? Legal nightmare and just a money pit.

I've tried to peg a label on the homeless, but I simply can't. My range of description goes from severely mentally ill and need of help from society to complete losers and leeches on society.

Let's just be cognizant of that fact in ways in which we address homelessness.

Read a book about Portland's street families called "All God's Children". (Multnomah County Library / Amazon). It is pretty chilling because it focuses on some sensational murders, but it also offers a compelling look at homelessness in Portland and inside the agencies that provide services to homeless youth and young adults before they "age out" and must seek services at adult facilities.

I've never had a problem with homeless people. On the whole, they have a better work ethic than trust-fund hipsters, a better moral code than bankers and real-estate developers, and more intelligent political views than talk-radio hosts. There are far worse things a city can be known for than its compassion for those who have lost their homes to foreclosure fraud, divorce, job loss, etc.

As for Portland attracting homeless people from elsewhere, it should be noted that the only real "magnet" for the itinerant poor is the availability of employment. With the highest jobless rate of any major city on the west coast, I really don't think Portland has much to worry about on that score.

"Where is that tipping point"

Walk downtown and look at how the retail biz is doing and who is walking around there.

We're several years past tipping point.

"I thought we had a program to shoot those people, or beat them to death."

It's not so much a program as it is the other homeless people taking care of it.

the only real "magnet" for the itinerant poor is the availability of employment

A lot of the homeless people in Portland have no intention of working again, ever.

Semi-Cynic: have you ever met a homeless person who actually owned a home in the recent past? Most of the faces I see downtown were begging during the housing bubble too: they aren't on the streets because their mortgage broker lied to them.

The vast majority suffer from mental illness, addictions, and (especially the younger ones) learned helplessness.

When does compassion equal enabling? At what point do we recognize the difference between giving a man a fish, and teaching him how?

Would it be callous for someone to have to prove official Oregon residency before receiving special services, as to not attract more outside homeless people from other states?

Jack, I wish the issue was much more about finding a job. Maybe it is for some, but the mental health and addiction of many homeless people is going to be the biggest barrier to employment.

Not to mention the litany of misdemeanor charges on many of their records from being homeless.

Why not just scrap the carts, and "store" the homeless folks? It'd keep 'em off the streets.

Just sayin'

"Would it be callous for someone to have to prove official Oregon residency"

How 'bout just proving they're drug-free?

I just completed a study where I conducted interviews with people in Poverty in rural parts of the state, some of them homeless. Most expressed a desire to work to their capacities, but would require intervention/supports before they could hope to obtain and keep work in today's job market.

For another perspective on people in poverty, addictions etc., see Donna Beegle's "See Poverty; Be the Difference. published by Communication Across Barriers in Tigard.

I thought we had a program to shoot those people, or beat them to death.

No that would be way too shortsighted. What nobody realizes is that this is really the (secret) linchpin to finally bringing in all those bio-tech jobs.

Everyone knows that the mad scientists in those bio-tech companies will need lots of people to experiment on. Having a large supply of homeless people will make Portland that much more attractive to them.

Suddenly it all makes sense: every policy designed to attract people to a place with no jobs was intentional.

Portland's been the number one city in homelessness for several years now. You don't get to be number one in anything without trying.

There is a reason why paid plasma donation centers are one of the only growth industries in Portland.

The bio-tech companies are looking for a place with a never-ending supply of human guinea pigs and Portland is in pole position.

How else do you explain it?

Semi-Cynic: have you ever met a homeless person who actually owned a home in the recent past?

Yes, in fact, I know one personally. He occasionally sleeps on my couch (and those of other friends). But the point I'm trying to make is that most homeless people don't have a lot of mobility. Even leaving aside the obvious financial barriers to moving, it's a pretty big deal when you're poor to leave behind whatever support network you might have -- friends, relatives, familiar clergy and service providers, etc. -- for a new city where no one knows who you are and even fewer care. It's just not something very many people do. Los Angeles has been waging all-out bureaucratic war on the homeless for more than 20 years trying to drive them out of downtown (see "City of Quartz" by Mike Davis for an early '90s description of this effort) and they still have the biggest Skid Row in the country. The only thing that draws large numbers of poor people anywhere is the promise of a steady income, i.e., employment. Simply offering shelter and storage space, as Portland is doing, isn't going to attract many people from outside -- most who hear of it will assume, usually correctly, that it's already filled to capacity with locals. Many don't like shelters anyway and avoid them if at all possible. The idea that a massive homeless horde is going to descend on any city that dares to show an ounce of compassion is just a convenient excuse not to do so. Yes, I agree with several posters here that the number of homeless people in Portland appears to be growing. But it's growing everywhere. Should we really expect otherwise, after two years of double-digit unemployment?

PanchoPDX, you make an interesting point. You probably remember that OHSU in SoWhat was a partner in the upscale Mirabella Continuing Care 32 story building just finished. They openingly stated they wanted to use the occupants for their research. Now your post makes me wonder if SoWhat's tax supported Block 49, 240 Housing units of Affordable Housing with 40 of the units for veterans, is being promoted as a "research source" for OHSU??


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