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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 11, 2011 9:40 AM. The previous post in this blog was Blazer Dancers to perform at Occupy Portland cleanout. The next post in this blog is Two peas in a pod. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Homelessness up 35% in just two years?

So says the director of one Portland nonprofit that provides aid to those out on the street.

Comments (19)

My impression downtown is that homelessness is definitely up quite a bit over the last few years. Tough to quantify, but there is some agency that does a physical count out on the street every year or two.

Actually I would bet that it is true.
A friend from the OregonFood Bank tells me that the food bank just distributed its one millionth food box earlier this month, an all time record for OFB. Not exactly the sort of goal that makes me think that this "recession" is over.
Where do all the folks who had their homes foreclosed go? Some will rent, some will live in their RVs and some will be even farther down the food chain and be homeless.

The City of Portland has allegedly posted information on help for the homeless at various points around the Occupy camp. Many of the people that have been encamped there have no place to go (despite the constant chatter of 'go home' from people who disapprove).

The City says there are 600-something shelter beds in town but fail to mention that every one of them is full and there are 2000 or more homeless people on the streets every night.

For many of these folks at the Occupy camp, Sunday night will be back in a doorway or under a bridge.

When you subsidize something - you get more of it.

And even those places are full. I drove along SE 2nd the other day under the Burnside Bridge and there are at least 10 folks there with mattresses and shopping carts looking like they have been there for some time. If that isn't camping I don't know what is!

Leaving;
So...with the government subsidizing the big banks and their obscenely over compensated leaders, we have more big banks with more grossly over paid executives.
By golly, you are so right!

I know that at my agency the waiting list for our housing is triple what it was 3 years ago. And, I'm not talking about free housing. Unfortunately the waiting list is also 7 times larger than the total number of rental units we operate.

I think those statistics are pretty accurate. I wonder if it includes the Occupy Portland people?

Oregon Food Bank (or more properly, the Oregon Food Bank Network) distributed food equivalent to OVER a million (1,029,000 to be exact)emergency food boxes LAST fiscal year. Those numbers will be higher in the next fiscal year as there has been unprecedented levels of need. In addition, OFB assures that 94% of every dollar received supports food and education programs. If you are looking for an organization to supoprt for your year-end giving, OFB is a great choice. Every $10 donated can provide the equivalent of 30 meals. http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/Donate

This is not human.
What would "new eyes" on our society think if they saw many vacant buildings, with kitchens and baths and more and more people out on the streets homeless?
We have plenty of money for pet projects for wall street, bank bail outs, and not enough resources for others.
We do not have adequate resources for those with mental problems.
How about some compassion for some who are just out and out helpless, out of work, money and food and no family/friends to help out
or for those who cannot for reasons live "as we think they should fall in line"?
Sure there are troublemakers, slackers, etc. Some may have just given up and unless we are in their shoes,...
A complex subject.

As always I am open to be shown otherwise. But lack of home ownership does not equate to homelessness except in the darkly comedic literal sense.
It's about mental instability. Whatever the cause of the instability, these types are generally on the lower rung of the employment ladder (if they can get work at all) and are the first to go when cuts happen. Then they end up homeless.
Of course this is an oversimplification.

The true measure of a compassionate society is how it treats those who cannot take care of themselves.
More people on the planet simply equates to more of those who are helpless.
Homeownershp for those who could under no conceivable economic senario afford to actually own a home, was just a scam to enrich those who did not need to be further enriched. This scheme is in my mind on a par with privatizing Social Security, 401k pension plans, and Roth IRAs. It is also right up there with the premise that everyone needs and should go to a 4 year university to get ahead in life. And if you do not you are some sort of looser.
Too bad we can't train some of those high earning Wall Street scammers how to fix a toilet, build a house, weld pipes, or learn to install an electrical outlet. But those folks are probably too stupid to learn something useful.

Portland Native: how might you distinguish between those who are helpless and those who are just too damn lazy to play a role in improving their lives?

Are heroin addicts helpless?

Are people who are able bodied, but averse to working helpless?

Are those with personality disorders who refuse treatment helpless?

For less than $50 million, I could build enough quonset huts to house every homeless person in Oregon. I would obligate them to actively participate in every aspect of operating the huts, not unlike the way the Army does it. The truly helpless would get light duty or be obligated to participate in drug/mental health treatment.

If you refuse to live by the rules, you get moved to a less desirable part of the community. I would try to create a progressive standard of living such that those who choose sobriety will enjoy more comfortable living. There would be a place for the outcasts to survive and/or drug themselves to death: it wouldn't be
an option to do so in a downtown park.

What a good idea Mr Tee. I think your suggestions deserve some serious attention and consideration. Seriously...I really mean it.

Is there any data on how many of Portland's homeless are from here? I've heard that homeless migrate here from around the country because we give away so many freebies. Does anyone attempt to distinguish between the "professional" homeless and those who really need help?

I remember seeing a statistic somewhere - I think it was in a story in the Wall Street Journal some months ago - where it stated that Portland had more homelss per capita than any other city in the US. All I know from traveling is that I certainly see a lot more beggars downtown in Portland than I do in Sacramento, Reno, Las Vegas or Phoenix..

Tee your idea that there are significant numbers of homeless people that could function in such a system is incorrect. They are homeless because they are dysfunctional. The system you describe is not much different than what is already happening.
Order. Consequences for not following along. Not much different than the current system. And they cannot handle it. At least not for long.
The reasons are many. Drug addiction is the major one. Mental health is the other. The 2 are often one in the same.
I do sympathize with the 'get yer shit together' mentality. I often share it. But it is not a viable solution.

2 things Dave.
1. We draw homeless from all over. No doubt. Our support system for them is well known. So they come here.
2. Not every city keeps their homeless problem right in the middle of everything. Our homeless are very visible.

PS: Until 2006 I worked with the homeless on 2nd/burnside. My job was to help them get jobs...a sort of tough love 'git it together' social work job. It was impossible. There were always new people coming in and no one could maintain a job for long.

I'm seeing two issues here. First, it seems like many homeless are able to travel here from all over the country to live off our freebies. I'm skeptical that someone who is able to move here and exploit these resources is incapable of caring for themselves, working, or maintaining a residence. Someone who lives on the streets may very well be abnormal and antisocial, but does that mean they are incapable of self-sufficiency? Certainly there are homeless who can't help themselves, but how do we separate them from the freeloaders?

The other issue: why is it Portland's role to provide support for other states' transients? Even if you believe that all homeless are incapable of self-sufficiency, why should Portland provide freebies to draw them here from other states? Our schools are a laughingstock, the infrastructure is falling apart, and our PERS finances are unsustainable. Where are our priorities?


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