Re: Tent Camping Solution
Linda Witt <linda.witt@...>
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I totally agree with David Dickson. I’d also like to add that it’s a bit wearying to hear public officials bemoan the homeless problem as “really too big to solve.” That smacks of excuses. If our leaders and the public truly were invested in solving the problem, then we should be able to do it. As has been pointed out by many, if European countries can humanely shelter millions of refugees, we should be able to shelter a few thousand of our most vulnerable citizens and at the same time, keep our streets and public spaces clean and enjoyable for all.
From: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Behalf Of David Dickson
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2020 8:31 AM
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] Tent Camping Solution
Very well said, John Elizalde! I have something to add to the voluntary vs mandatory debate. It doesn’t have to be either San Quentin or anything goes. The key to the shelter strategy is diversity. Everything from motel rooms for the infirm and at risk to micro landing campsites to large shelter/rehab facilities like Bybee Lakes Hope Center to parking lots for campers to mini house villages to large temporary/emergency shelters (especially in bad weather). The goal should be to provide enough options so that our unhoused neighbors can make a choice that is right for them. The community will have done its part by providing enough options to meet the needs of the unhoused. At that point the community would be well within its rights from a legal and moral position to forbid ad hoc camping, which is both unsafe, unsanitary and a bad choice for all parties, especially the unhoused. Ultimately we all have to make a choice where we live. Given that we have yet to discover the secret to a utopian society, everyone will not have equal choices. But in my mind society has no obligation to grant a person the choice to live in an unsafe and unsanitary location that is harmful to both the individual and the community at large. In fact society has an obligation to make sure this does not occur.
Is A Shelter for Everyone too great a challenge for the people of Portland? Was putting a human being on the moon too great a challenge for the US in 1968? Was building what FDR called the Arsenal of Democracy too great a challenge for US to defeat Hitler in WWII? Was public ownership of the Pacific coastline too big a challenge for Oregon? Was the creation of Waterfront Park and the East Bank Esplanade and the Chinese Garden too great a challenge for the city of Portland? To win the war on homelessness is a big goal, which will require many people stepping up to the plate in many ways. It will require elected leaders who think big and are willing to use their bully pulpit to inspire us. Practically speaking, it will require us to spend the Metro 26-210 money wisely and place far greater emphasis on those who are living unsheltered in our community. And government alone cannot solve the problem. It will require the private sector to step up in a big way. But this is possible. Portland and other west coast cities not only have the greatest homelessness problems in the country. They also have some of the most progressive populations and the most successful businesses in the country. There is a saying that great ideas don’t fail for lack of money. A dynamic Portland plan will surely entice the Amazons and the Apples and the Nikes and the Columbia Sportswears and the Microsofts to step up to the plate. If Phil Knight gave $500 millions and $125 million to OHSU to fight cancer and cardiovascular disease, what would he and others give to fight the battle of our generation, homelessness?
And the problem goes far beyond shelter. The national investment in high rises did not alone solve the problems of poverty and crime in the inner cities in the mid 20th century. The solution begins with people. We will need to do a far better job addressing the mental health and addiction challenges that our people face. Equally important, will need to help our unhoused neighbors connect to the world of work, as it is job skills, employment and self sufficiency that ultimately build pride and dignity in human beings. It will require a brigade of community organizers to assist our houseless neighbors in setting up self governing communities that are capable of improving the quality of life for their residents.
Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis that holds a death grip on Portland and communities around the country, particularly on the west coast. But we can beat homelessness, Portland, and if we succeed, it will become a model for the rest of the country.
Thanks, John, for issuing the challenge!