Re: KOIN Coverage and Framing

Tim McCormick

KOIN did a followup segment and article, which was in my view quite and good, helping to balance and deepen the perspectives. Great work by lead reporter Dan Tilkin dan.tilkin@..., bcc-ed here.

I posted it here at PDXshelterforum Nov 20, here it is again:


surprisingly good (mostly, in my opinion) TV news segment from Portland KOIN 6,

Centers on interviews with a houseless man, and Terrance Moses who runs Neighbors Helping Neighbors, at camp at N. Lombard and I-5 / N. Montana.

"Moses said we can’t build enough brick-and-mortar buildings in a timely and urgent way. 'But what we do need is more tiny homes or just land and let them pitch their tents or put the RVs, but still provide them the services.'"

(geographic note: the location is the intersection of Oregon's main north-south route I-5 / Pacific Highway, with its main east-west route, Hwy 30, = N. Lombard St here). 

One note, I'd incline to ask for substantiation of houselesss interviewee / KOIN6's claim of public benefit money being used by recipients to buy drugs. May be true, but also sounds like something fears/stereotypes would suggest, and would be best to check out. 

lead reporter: Dan Tilkin

Posted: Nov 18, 2021 / 01:00 PM PST / Updated: Nov 18, 2021 / 05:30 PM PST

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At a homeless camp along I-5 at North Lombard, one of the people participating in a recent clean-up lives in the camp and shared his insights into why Portland is stuck in a homeless crisis.

At his camp, he’s frustrated younger homeless people keep bringing in more stuff and doesn’t understand why the city of Portland allows it and why it doesn’t at least provide them with garbage cans.

Portland neighbors beg for help as homeless camp takes root 

“We cleaned this area over here twice in 3 weeks,” the man told KOIN 6 News. “Portland don’t want to keep picking it up, picking it up, picking it up. I take care of my area, if I start seeing it getting overflowed, I go over and tell them, ‘Hey man, pick it up or get the hell out of here’.”

The city made a decision during the pandemic to leave many homeless camps alone and decided to try to do a better job helping people in camps gets social services. That takes more time and money.

The man agreed to talk to KOIN 6 News if his identify was not revealed. He didn’t share any personal details about his life beyond saying he’s originally from Texas.

Asked if there are not enough mental health services he said, “For them. You know what I mean? Not me. I’ve seen people get run over right out there (pointing to the freeway on-ramp). People, man. It’s ridiculous.”

Then there’s the drug use.

“Holy macaroni! I ain’t never in my life seen such a bad deal. They’re giving them the money to go buy the dope. They’re, I mean, they can work for it, if anything. You know what I mean? Come on, man! Do something besides give them money and do this and do that and get stupid trash everywhere.”

This homeless man helped clean up a homeless camp at North Lombard and Montana, October 2021 (KOIN)

He’s talking about government financial assistance that some in the homeless camps spend on drugs. That government assistance is supposed to go to living expenses.

Housing is an issue, of course. But “who can afford $1500 a month for a box? That’s sad. That doesn’t coincide their Social Security or whatever they’re getting, you know, for help.”

Data from Multifamily NW and A Home For Everyone shows that since early 2015, “rents in our community have risen much faster than the median income, to nearly $1400 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland. … Meanwhile, more than 21,000 people in Multnomah County rely on federal disability checks that top out at $794 a month.”

“Every major forecast is predicting continued rent increases in Portland Metro,” wrote Multifamily NW in its Fall 2021 Apartment Report. “This will be driven by steady population growth, decreasing number of units under construction, and declining vacancies.”

Trash, graffiti growing concern on Portland-area freeways 

The man from Texas was working alongside Terrance Moses who runs Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Through donations to his non-profit, Moses cleans up camps and tries to help people living on the fringe.

“What you should really know is that a lot of our houseless neighbors aren’t here by choice and yes, there’s a segment of them that are here by choice,” Moses said. “And the stigma of dehumanizing them, what other folks don’t know about it is that it is very hurtful and traumatizing to an already traumatic incident.”

This homeless man helped clean up a homeless camp at North Lombard and Montana, October 2021 (KOIN)

Moses said we can’t build enough brick-and-mortar buildings in a timely and urgent way. “But what we do need is more tiny homes or just land and let them pitch their tents or put the RVs, but still provide them the services.”

He added the reason many homeless people seem to hoard garbage is really simple. “When you’re homeless and you have absolutely nothing, everything you touch becomes a prize possession. And they want to hold on to everything.”

While the man from Texas didn’t want to share how he ended up in this homeless camp, he did say the City of Portland is enabling the crisis he’s part of.

City leaders, he said, are “giving up too easy. The political people are just giving up. They don’t, they don’t, they don’t care to deal with it. They don’t want to deal with it and they’re not going to deal with it. They’re going to pass the buck to somebody else. It’s a little bit easier.”


Bcc: Dan Tilkin

Tim McCormick
Housing Alternatives Network
Director Oregon Cooperative Housing Network, Editor at HousingWiki,
Organizer at Village Collaborative

On Sat, Dec 11, 2021 at 12:52 PM Elise Aymer <elise@...> wrote:
Hi Lindsey,

I appreciate your response and sharing of your experiences.

I hope it didn't come across as an antagonistic post. Apologies if it did.

You highlighted what I thought about and expected might be the lived experience for both housed and in housed in these neighbourhoods.

I also wondered about Terrence Moses health cleaning up unspecified substances with what seemed like minimal protective equipment and little help.

I was more writing about the media framing of the issue. 

I felt like the language KOIN used might dehumanize, stir the pot and reinforce division, when as you say, there is common cause.

For example, I would agree with you that the unhoused living in these conditions have been failed. Does anyone really want to live in trash and human waste?

KOIN, however, didn't interview any of them for the segment. If the news had, they may well have echoed your sentiments of frustration, lack of safety and anxiety.

KOIN instead, I thought painted a picture of an invading horde against which housed folks must defend themselves, when bigger picture the unhoused are where they are, in such poor and unsustainable conditions because of larger systemic failures.

KOIN didn't talk about why there are so many houseless people and if growing in number why this is the case. 

On that score, I thought the resident they interviewed who said, I know if they move them from my neighbourhood it will just be effectively to another one was good.

And I know, maybe I am expecting too much of conventional local news. I would imagine it has an impact though.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing what you've been experiencing.


On Sat, 11 Dec 2021, 8:48 am Lindsey Leason, <lindsey.leason@...> wrote:

I follow this forum and I also live in this neighborhood and am part of the community of neighbors that are impacted on a daily basis by the experience of living adjacent to a houseless encampment. 

I also work for houseless services. So please here me when I communicate the frustration and anxiety that my neighbors and I have experienced over the last 7-8 months. 

No one in my neighborhood ignores the houseless individuals or treats them unkindly. That being said a number of the residents of the houseless camps that existed on our street this summer were drug addicts, criminals, and aggressive. I lived with them on a daily basis. 

As of very recently, like three weeks ago, there was a shooting in the camp that is along the freeway were by one man shot another 3 times. 

The sounds of that gunfire have caused me intense anxiety as do the sounds of the frequent gunfire that was occurring on a nightly basis all around Kenton. 

What my neighbors and I think a lot of citizens, including the unhoused would like is for the city to actually address this situation. With more temporary housing, more services, more cleanups, and better management of the whole process. 

I have had the opportunity to speak with a few campers living in the larger camp along I-5 and they have told me about the violence and sometimes destruction within their camps by other campers. They are victims of each other and that is also terrifying. But were is their reporting feature. Who can they turn too? The same useless city services that the houses continues to turn too. 

Camp sweeps are not the best option and have long been discussed as inhumane and they are. But what about the violence and often extreme levels of health hazards that exist in these camps and affect the residents. That is what my neighbors and I are frustrated and concerned about. We lived it day in day out and also have a right to have worries about our own health and safety. I lived next corrosive chemicals, heroin needles, and human waste for 6 months. Very close, it was on my back doorstep. Is that okay? Is my request to clean that level of what you can agree is hazardous unfounded? 

Terrance Moses has been very helpful in the North Portland community but do you know that his charity picks up the tab for every trash dump they do because the city doesn’t recognize his services or his status as a 501c3? He is also putting his health at risk. But again he is one man and some neighbors. Where is the city?

I hope I reframed your email content politely, but please don’t call out my neighborhood for their concerns. 


On Dec 11, 2021, at 12:34 AM, Elise Aymer <elise@...> wrote:

One of the really good things about this group is that it is solutions, ideas and action focused.

I'm sharing the following, which isn't any of those things because I think it's important to keep in touch with how homelessness is being framed and covered locally.

Perhaps many of you have already seen this KOIN segment from last month. Not sure.

I noted how "neighbors" refers to those who are housed vs. "the homeless." 

"People" doesn't seem to include houseless folks.

"Camp" and "encampment" clean-ups are desirable. A large chart shows how those positive activities have dwindled.

Quite a lot of graphs and maps, actually.

That said the housed residents they recorded seem earnest and I don't doubt the problems they are experiencing. Nor the evident tension.

The disconnection between the various levels of government, utilities, and agencies also seemed credible.

A bright spot in the piece for me was their interview with Terrence Moses of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Though perhaps some of you know him/his organization and have other opinions.

I'll stop here as I don't want to rant and think that others here who know much more about the details only touched upon in this segment and can be much more eloquent


Tim McCormick
Housing Alternatives Network
+1 503.334.1894. Zoom personal room.
Director Oregon Cooperative Housing Network, Editor at HousingWiki,
Organizer at Village Collaborative

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