used-up-looking people, young, old, mostly men, mostly white, ambling down the streets alone or in groups, or struggling along on bikes laden with their possessions or pushing shopping carts or stopping with their carts or bikes on the sidewalk,
During my visit the tidal wave of homelessness in Portland was a large topic of conversation among my sister and her friends and the neighbors we stopped to talk to during our walks, as well as on the neighborhood news blog. There's been a prevalence of home and car break-ins in the area and thefts to the point that it's now an assumption that anything left unguarded will be stolen, including UPS or mailed packages left on the porch. And my sister never parks her car on any street in Portland anymore without a lock bar on her steering wheel.
And human feces on sidewalks and in parks has become a nuisance.
Among the reasons I heard my sister and her friends offering for the state of affairs in Portland were:
-Rents have gotten so high in Portland that some working people can't afford an apartment anymore and now find themselves in the streets;
-Several homeless shelters have closed over the past year;
-Portland is a hot spot along the Meth-Heroin Corridor between Mexico and Canada and drugs are more rampant than ever before;
-There's been a recent huge influx of young people, hippie-types who are seeking to live the counter-culture life, perhaps inspired by the hit comedy "Portlandia";
-Portland's culture of tolerance;
-Too few police officers to patrol the streets or handle non-emergency complaints.
But my sister and her friends all agreed that in their opinion the main cause of the public problem that homelessness in Portland has become originated from an ordinance, well-intentioned but ultimately misguided, passed last year by Portland's mayor Charlie Hales, allowing homeless people to pitch tents on the streets and in parks for their own safety.
From this ordinance grew:
A once beautiful walking trail known as the Springwater Corridor had to be closed down to the public for health and safety reasons.
But the problem remains that now whenever a homeless camp is cleared out of one neighborhood it pops up in another. This is how the problem arrived in my sister's neighborhood. When the massive homeless camp was cleared out from he Springwater Corridor,
Beautiful Portland, you have a problem.