THE JOYCE HOTEL The Joyce Hotel front desk.
Mercury staff

WOE IS PORTLAND

RE: "The Joyce Hotel Is Closing" [News, Jan 27], in which Shelby R. King reported on the eviction of the downtown building's tenants. "The 90-bed loss will create a service gap," King wrote, "for some of Multnomah County's most underserved and vulnerable residents."

If Portland can do without tax revenue for years when subsidizing "development areas" for retail housing, then they damn sure can spring to buy this place and re-open the Fish Grotto as a services and meals locus. Or, conversely, take the under-employed and use them to rehab the entire building and bring it up to standard and apply for federal aid. All I see is hand-wringing and woe-is-me bullshit spouting from every talking head while hoping another homeless camp will ease the pressure on a simmering situation. At what point does the status quo sicken the populace so completely that something concrete gets done?
posted by olddavid

SO, SPEAKING OF HOMELESS CAMPS...

RE: Hall Monitor [News, Jan 27], in which Dirk VanderHart examined how some Portland neighborhoods are working with the homeless encampments that have spread beyond Right 2 Dream Too and Hazelnut Grove.

Don't waste your limited resources on continuing these people's homelessness. Put the resources into turning them back into functional, independent human beings. Homelessness is a symptom of something else: getting fired or laid off, addiction, criminal records, laziness, being content with it. Keeping them corralled in Shantytown is not the answer to those woes. Our time and energy would be better spent investing in their job training, drug/alcohol rehab, mental health care, and whatnot. As for the neighborhood camps, the phrase "if you build it, they will come" comes to mind.
posted by FYI

If Portland only had a problem of homegrown homeless folks—people displaced by high rents and a weak job market, or so mentally ill that they ended up on the streets—it might be a solvable problem, even if there's always going to be some chronically homeless. But it's hard to even manage the problem when there's a never-ending revolving door of down-and-out types who end up here because of some sad idea that it's easier to be homeless in Portland. I wish there was an easy solution that I could speak to, but what we're doing right now doesn't seem to be working.
posted by Prodigal Son

Mayor Charlie Hales and advocates for the Hazelnut Grove homeless camp want city-permitted camps throughout Portland. That's a poor substitute for serving the city's homeless residents. If Hales insists on pursuing it, the city should take reasonable steps to promote safety and accountability, including recording the names of city-permitted campers.

The Mercury's Dirk VanderHart thinks that asking campers to register is simply to enable neighbors to conduct "vigilante background checks." On the contrary, it is to protect campers, the city, and taxpayers. For example, such a list will enable the city to respond quickly in an emergency or if crimes occur.

When the city becomes a landlord, neighbors and campers expect it to do its due diligence, just like any other landlord. Whether a list of campers becomes public is a matter of state open records law. The important thing is that the city have it.
Chris Trejbal, Overlook Neighborhood Association Board

STREET FIGHTER

RE: "Street Harassment Happens All the Time—and It's Even Worse Than We Thought" [Feature, Jan 27], Megan Burbank and Shelby R. King's story about street harassment, which, predictably and depressingly, got a bunch of dumbass comments from dipshit MRA types. EXCEPT FOR...

Makes me nervous to be friendly to lady strangers knowing it could be perceived in a negative way, but I always err on the side of caution. I'd rather they feel comfortable than make me feel validated for being kind.
posted by Joel VanValkenburg-Huff

Yes, Joel. Pat yourself on the back—clearly you are "one of the good ones." Minding your own business should be everybody's default mode when on the street or in a moving vehicle.
posted by Um, ICE?!

And that's the note we're going out on this week! For the first time in Mercury history, we're giving two people our coveted letter of the week prize! Thanks for writing, Joel and Um, ICE?!, and we hope you each enjoy your pair of tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater—where everyone always feels comfortable, and where they always have plenty of ice.