Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Portland-Area Politicians Not Living Up to Promises on Addressing Homelessness

In 2015, Portland, Gresham, and Multnomah County officials created A Home for Everyone. They stated an ambitious goal of halving homelessness by 2019. During his campaign in 2016, Mayor Wheeler came out with his own ambitious goal - providing all Portlanders with a safe place to sleep by the end of 2018. He believed he could achieve this goal by getting the city and county to fund 1,800 new shelter beds. It is becoming clear, however, that metro-area elected officials are not living up to the promises they made. KGW-TV commissioned a poll on homelessness that found that 57% of Portlanders are dissatisfied with Wheeler and the City Council's response to homelessness in the city. 46% of residents are dissatisfied with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury's approach to handling problems associated with homelessness. Since 2015, the number of residents who lack permanent housing has increased from 3,801 to 4,177. Residents in East Portland who live in close proximity to the Springwater Corridor multi-use path argue that sweeps of homeless camps have only exacerbated problems in their neighborhoods. Wheeler believes that homelessness in the city is a symptom of a number of problems facing Portland as well as many other major cities. The nationwide housing shortage, the opioid crisis, a lack of mental health and addiction treatment, and unemployment all contribute to increasing homelessness in the city. Addressing homelessness is no easy task, but Portland residents seem to be losing patience with officials who are so far from achieving their own stated goals. 49% of residents surveyed said there are currently people living in tents in their neighborhoods, and public opinion may be turning against leaders who fail to adequately address the needs of housed and un-housed residents alike. Read more.

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