General Mar 1, 2012 at 4:00 am

What the Shooting of Two Homeless Men Ought to Mean for Portland's Camping Ban


Golly. What is Portland coming to when the hordes of homeless panhandling drig addicts who infest our streets arent safe living in tents cities under the overpasses with hundreds of other meth heads? Are we really as progressive as we pretend to be?
Really shithead thing for you to say. Shouldn't you be commenting at OregonLive?
Not only do we have DamosA back but also a great new troll who is probably on "drigs" himself and talks about "our streets" even though he doesn't even live in Oregon, or so he said in his tantrum under the New Seasons post.

Sorry, let me give ohnos! what he wants/expects: Hey man, your tough questions are really harshing my mellow. I think I'll call in sick to work tomorrow.
There seems to be this quixotic notion that R2D2 and other forms of urban camping are going to do anything positive about homelessness. We've been through this before where Dignity Village was the panacea for this problem. Things have only gotten worse since then.

You could build 50 more campsites in Portland like this, but the agents of homelessness ranging from disability, mental illness and mostly drug abuse are still present. R2D2 merely covered them up behind some doors (literally, of course). It's also difficult to see that there really is a camping ban in Portland given the numbers of people sleeping in doorways and parks, so the "ban" part is really just a hyperbole by the advocates.

Like any other development, there are standards, and this campsite blatantly violates the basics of those development standards (unsafely I might add). It doesn't matter what is being built, whether a strip club or an orphanage -- there need not be exceptions. Not to mention a truck coming by daily cleaning out porta-potties is not an attractive neighborhood feature (hence why we have indoor plumbing!).

Also, is anyone else concerned about a business's ability to do well in the city in the face of unregulated, unmitigated camping and endless homelessness in the city? What about the restaurant(s) next to the campsite? Would people feel bad knowing that a Chinese restaurant went out of business due to mercurial potential diners choosing a place with, shall we say, a bit more ambiance than a homeless campsite next door?

We already went through a campsite in Portland, it was called Occupy Portland and it was a nightmare that the majority of the people didn't care for. That should put an end to the notion of camping in public.

A better solution is getting more permanent housing, treating illnesses and going from there. That has been the only way. Give the housing to the mentally ill and disabled first. If someone wants to be a druggy loser externalizing their behavior on the rest of the city without being held accountable -- then that is their choice in life. Portland can only do so much.

I commend R2D2 for being allegedly drug free, although I wonder if some of its tenants are doing their part to keeping Old Town drug free as well.
Valid points, ws. But people have to go SOMEWHERE - and it ought to be SAFE! R2D2 is helpful, to a small no. of people i feel. But agreed, it's certainly a massive problem, various problems with concerning homelessness that most U.S cities simply aren't addressing.

Homelessness doesn't seem to be nearly as big a social issue in many Asian and European cities. What are THEY doing so differently?
Europe is bankrupt and Asia has labor camps.
Well WE'RE near bankrupt too (in far greater debt, for sure), and we also have labor camps. Yet, most European and Asian cities seem to have far less homeless people than we do.
Okay, just so we're not overgeneralizing.

DamosA, Cuba has virtually no homelessness. One can make whatever criticisms (some of which I'd surely agree with) of the way government works there, but it's simply more a part of the culture there that people take care of one another and help each other rather than competing against each other and letting the sickest and most disadvantaged rot and die. We don't always do the latter here, but it is part of the socially accepted norm. (Some of the laws there also have helped to mitigate the effects of some bad economic conditions)

I think poverty is a cultural problem rather than just an economic one. See Oscar Lewis's work on the "culture of poverty" (a commonly distorted and misunderstood concept that IMO had a lot of merit).
Everyone needs to watch the doc I Am by Tom Shaydac (last name spelled wrong i think). We should all be nice and not shoot each other. However, it is no surprise this happened randomly on Fat Tuesday, when the douchiest of the douchy come out to party and fistfight. This seems like it was done on a drunken lark by a couple of asshole suburbanites, but that is just my speculation. Seriously you all, watch I Am.
After the Occupy Portland rally I went to vist R2DT. I told them hi I am Robby and I want to volunteer. A very nice person let me in and showed me the rest area. It boggles my mind that up to 70 people can/do/will sleep there on any given night. But they do. Then today I read this sorry and all I can do is cry. Because of lack of space at R2DT or a shelter a gay couple had to sleep under a bridge. A couple who I am sure only wanted to sleep together like most others at night. Then some dick head takes some shots at them at 5am. I am happy they both survived and I hope to see them at R2DT. Thanks for the story Denis.
I would like to add to my comment. I like the idea of R2DT being out in the open. To me it serves as a VISABLE reminder that homlessness is a HUGE problem in this city. Also it's located very close to both Street roots and Sisters of the road and other service providers. By doing so R2DT has helped transition some people into housing. But for all that success at very little cost to the city people still don't understand why it's there? I guess the big question is while at R2DT people are safe and sleeping. Yes in tents in a water logged gravel pit but hey home is where you hang you hat right? Where do you tell them to go when R2DT get closed?

What is to stop some crazy fuck from driving past homeless tents and taking shots?
Will having a legal place to put up a tent stop it?
"I think poverty is a cultural problem rather than just an economic one."

Well yes, you're pretty much right. Economic factors do have a major effect on poverty, wealth, and class over-all [in this country]. But the way [our entitled] culture is set up, does have an even more significant role here.

And just one thing i wanted to address (after having read the article in its entirety) - anyone who'd trample through dt banging on the walls of R2D2 yelling stupid shit at helpless people are fucking shitheads, and hopefully will drop the fuck dead early just like Andrew Breitbart! I hear folks bitch and whine about homeless folks dt alot - mostly from Pearlies and cops. But notice how crime in dt always has an up-tick on the weekends. I've said this before when the debate to ban high-content booze dt was on, and i'll say it again - MOST crime that occurs in dt Portland can be attributed to weekend club/bar hoppers who tend to wear spray tans and are addicted to RedBull.

Prove i'm wrong on this.
@12, Gee, I don't know, a larger and more visible (to anyone) community with more potential eyewitnesses? You're tedious, at best.
@Iceprez...yeah. Followed closely by St Patricks day. The day when any sensible Irish American stays home
Geyser, you clearly had a good education. But where in the hell do you pull these astonishing world facts from? Have you actually ever left the state of Oregon? Yet you pontificate with great authority. You are not entirely wrong about Cuba , because living in a shack with out running water or plumbing does not constitute being "homeless". In fact there exists both a serious lack of housing and a major poverty issue in Cuba. Are you a shill for Castro, or just some asshat Art school grad that is getting their facts from fantasy, or a perception of the world that does not jive with reality?
I've been all over Cuba, among other places. Your ignorant comments about shacks say more about you than about really existing conditions there or anywhere else. Your ridiculous ranting about art school has no bearing here, despite your urge to apply it to every topic. A comment thread is really no place for exhaustive references and documentation. If anyone doubts what I'm saying, I don't really care to carry any big burden of proof. Let people do their own research.

I already said I'd surely agree with many criticisms of the Cuban government, so your "Castro shill" thing is weak and pathetic. I said that about the government in the first because I knew some dim bulb is bound to start spouting off about Castro as soon as anyone says anything good about Cuba.
FINALLY, look, I told you before, I'm not interested in your stupid, bellowing posts. I've been ignoring you since then, and I expect you to ignore me. Otherwise, if you're going to keep braying at me and trying to keep some stupid flame war going, you're the one who's going to look stupid and pathetic. Comment about the topic at hand, not about me.
I'm very happy Joe and Allen are okay! Thanks for the update, Denis.

R2D2 is nothing remotely bad, compared to the fuck stains that come out for the NW 2nd & Davis weekend club hopping. I fucking loathe those single celled transplants, yet the police department continues to allow these "it's" to drive home drunk. I wish they'd all just drive off a cliff.
Just a thought BUT how about we try to find common ground between everybody that lives/plays/uses/ downtown Portland? Homeless and non homeless people live downtown. Lots of people spend money eating/drinking etc... In downtown. And plenty of people pass through downtown on buses/max/streetcar or bike/walk. Money spent in downtown no matter by who helps spur the economy on... Stupid people do stupid things all over town. Just saying.
1) Regarding other countries, there's plenty of homelessness out there.

No need to go very far, Vancouver BC (Downtown Eastside) has one of the largest skid rows in North America, and arguably one of the largest open-air drug markets (world's most livable city anyone allegedly). They also have heroin injection sites and groups that hand out thousands of crack pipes to addicts to stop Hepatitis C.

Personally, I think there's some knee-jerk homeless advocates (and critics) out there who are clueless on the topic. Though I am pontificating a bit more than I should on the topic as well. I am no expert, but I feel approaching the situation from many perspectives is key to addressing the issue best.

2) We need to seek a balance between homeless needs and the ability to have a vibrant downtown and business atmosphere in the city. I see a lot of vacancies out there.

As much as people don't want to admit, businesses produce tax dollars and tax dollars go to city services which educate kids and provide social services to the poor. Turning the city into one large homeless camp zone is more than likely going to reduce spending and investment in the city, ultimately making homelessness an even bigger problem or worse yet, a problem that doesn't get addressed to its fullest. To me, this is not a difficult scenario to see unfold.

People and businesses will take their money elsewhere.

Should a business have to deal with campers sleeping in their doorway (private property) and areas around their business? Should citizens have to deal with open-air drug use in their parks? Absolutely not on both accounts.

But as a society, should we defund social services, turn an eye to mental health needs, and avoid providing affordable housing to people? Of course not. These are all good things that positively deal with homelessness and poverty.

Here is a great documentary on homelessness in Vancouver BC:

If anyone's interested, type "Downtown Eastside" into YouTube and you'll see videos that make Old Town look like Disneyland -- videos that are very disturbing. This is not where any city should want to be, and my personal opinion that Vancouver's monstrous drug abuse problems is due to lack enforcement of drug use (not so much in the criminal justice sense of locking people up in jail for using drugs which doesn't work well, but not holding people accountable for being addicts through positive community intervention).

Homelessness is not a US problem only. Getting rid of capitalism and Republicans isn't going to get rid of the problem.
Those who are quick to blame poor people for homelessness might want to look at the decline in affordable housing since the Reagan era. Western Regional Advocacy Project has an excellent report on this. And closer to home, affordable housing money is being stolen from those it should serve and put into high-end developments like Headwaters in SW Portland. That is a crime.
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.

Per the article from the city attorney, nobody's getting arrested in town for sleeping outside:

"'There's no ban in town. It's happening. It's tolerated'"

People will get shooed away and shuffled around by police for sleeping in certain areas, but arresting people for the sole reason of sleeping outside does not appear to be a tactic employed by the police, nor a crime that the city or county would pursue even if a cop wanted to enforce the rule stringently.

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