I am a Portland pastor to the homeless and mentally ill. My wife, Diane and my three children still choose to live with me. My…
As long as "camping" is illegal, the homeless will be considered criminals, just for not having a place to sleep. As long as they are considered criminals, then many people will consider themselves justified to attack the homeless, both verbally and physically. Criminalizing the homeless is an act of dehumanization, taking a segment of population who have done nothing wrong and making them less than normal.
The solution to homelessness isn't a single entity. R2D2 and the Bud Clark Commons are just two of many options we should take to help the homeless, but most advocates are blind to the many issues. But we can't find any real solutions as long as we label the innocent guilty.
@4-- Actually, I can't find any plans for parking for the second proposed building. The one that is already being built, on the East side of the street, has 66 parking spaces for 72 units, which is inadequate.
Also, the city numbers for parking the Mercury cited was for the whole of Williams-- but all the development is happening between Fremont and Alberta, which has significantly fewer spaces. Some of us have businesses to run in this area, as well as residents, all of which have inadequate parking. I would recommend to build the new apartment complex maybe eight blocks down the street. Williams can still be accessed, but it won't be in the area where there is a crunch already.
Friday, a bus broke down on Williams and Beech. A lane was blocked and the traffic backed up all the way to the Fremont Bridge. Is it really a good idea to continue forcing more population and business in this small area?
1. It IS hard to be homeless, which is why no one would ever choose it. Sometimes you're stuck long enough that it seems better and easier than fighting with three hundred other people for a job, but no one chooses it initially.
2. The far majority of the homeless in PDX were raised in Multnomah County. This isn't a problem of people coming from outside, this is our own, home-grown crisis. This is why the remarks by Sarah are spot on.
3. The Bud Clark Commons-- a great program, BTW-- housed 130 individuals. The low number of homeless (taken on the coldest season of the year) is more than four thousand. And some think we shouldn't provide more services?
The fact is Multnomah County creates more homeless people than it helps. And then after they create them, they blame them and harass them and arrest them because of their homelessness. Rather than pointing fingers at the homeless just try to imagine if you were in that position, in this economy, what would YOU do?
Pastor of Anawim Christian Community, a church of the homeless.
Thank you so much Sarah for writing this article. It is powerful, but still objective. You have done good work for the homeless community here.
Pastor of Anawim Christian Community
BTW, Diver is doing okay-- he's been off drugs for months now.
The warming shelters were great. Now Gresham needs to get on board. There was only one little-known warming center open at the beginning of the teen-temperatures. Later a couple others opened up, but people were on the verge of dying out there.
Sarah, first of all, I really want to thank you for your article, and for your update of Diver here. It must be hard to correct a good story, even if you didn't write anything wrong. Ankles and I give you an honorary "breakfast pie" piece for your excellent effort.
But also to respond to El Cubano above. Diver has all the support he wants, if he wants it. Either from his mother, or from our community, which is a strong family, complete with arguments. We all want him to succeed in being clean and in living a positive life.
But there is another community that pulls at him. A community that encourages him to endulge, not really understanding that it means his death and it cripples him spiritually. And he's lived in that community for as long as you, El, have been alive. It's hard to surrender a whole life and begin a new one. We who have done it keep going back to the old life until we are really ready to surrender it.
The road to freedom is different for different people. The reasons for addiction are complex and the solutions can be even more complicated. Chronic homelessness is even more complex still. There just isn't a single answer-- sometimes not even for one person.
But I am confident of this. Diver has left before and returned. When it is time, he will return.
Pastor of Anawim
There are alternatives, as well. JOIN is a good organization, but there are others that need clothes and blankets, who don't receive as many donations, like... say... Anawim, who is one of the few service organizations to the homeless in Gresham.
Also, don't be afraid to give to the homeless yourself. There have been some brave souls standing out in the snow and ice with signs. They tell me that they are actually getting fewer donations, not more-- not even enough for them to get a motel room if they stand out all day. But you can go to Fred Meyers and buy some hand warmers or nutrition bars or socks and give them out to those in need. I've handed out a number of hand warmers and I've never gotten more sincere thank you's.
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