May 9, 2020
Working in collaboration with the other neighborhood associations in the North Portland Neighborhood Services community, the Bridgeton Neighborhood Association has developed the North Portland Joint Statement on Homelessness to help the city move forward in our struggle with the homelessness crisis. As of May 8, Bridgeton, Arbor Lodge, University Park and Overlook NA boards have voted to support this statement. The remaining North Portland boards are still in discussion.
Obviously we would all like to see an end to this social blight. Not only does it represent human suffering and despair, it creates conditions that lead to crime, disease and a degradation of humane living for all of us. We cannot wish it away - we cannot demand it take itself elsewhere and leave us to our idyllic ignorance of the crisis - we, as residents of the Portland community need to face the hard question: What, exactly, are we willing to do about it? We can donate to charity, we can demand that the city remove obstacles to getting the Bybee Lakes Hope Center up and running, but these are only partial solutions. While we fix the long-term problems of housing affordability and the gaps in our mental health policy, we need immediate solutions that bring people services and at the same time restore our streets to something resembling law and order. We need more managed camps and we need them throughout the city.
The next step in this process is to ask what public spaces within the community could accommodate such a thing? A managed camp should be equipped to handle people safely and with dignity, provide basic services, sanitation, and access to public transportation, and the stable base from which to rebuild their lives. In exchange for creating an environment that respects the needs of the homeless, we gain the moral authority to demand respect for our own lives and livelihood.
We will be discussing this topic at the May virtual board meeting on Tuesday 5/12.
Please write to me with your thoughts.
Bridgton Neighborhood Association