Re: General Jeff - The Mayor of Skid Row - Is Gone @ 56


Peter Finley Fry
 

That you Jeff.  This is critical information that is not getting to those who are “designing the system”. 

 

 

 

Peter Finley Fry    AICP PhD MUP BS

Strategic Land Use Planning

Cultural Anthropologist

303 NW Uptown Terrace; Unit 1B

Portland, Oregon 97210

503 703-8033

 

 

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 

From: Jeff Liddicoat via groups.io
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2022 6:35 PM
To: pdxshelterforum@groups.io
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] General Jeff - The Mayor of Skid Row - Is Gone @ 56

 

This is just one person’s recent experience with the City’s new push for tiny house in tiny villages. He is a friend of mine that has  a fairly hard time on the streets. He was recently talked into staying at such a village out towards the Columbia River far from town and everyone he knows - as he describes it ‘far from everything, isolated with nothing to do and nowhere to go’. The area is served by only one bus with less than frequent service. Upon arriving he found that although there were electric connections,  in the place he was assigned he would not have any electric power or heat until after he was there for two weeks.

Additionally virtually all his belongings including new gear (sleeping bag,  blankets, tarp, and tent) were taken from him with the explanation tied to health and safety concerns. In return he says he was given a new but mediocre sleeping bag for his tiny, empty, and cold hut. As for common areas he notes there is a TV and places to sit and that there is food fairly consistently. But showers are limited to 10 minutes total time for lukewarm water that leaves him colder after he showers than before.

And here’s the type of insulting policy one can expect. He was asked if he had any knives. As it turns out an old friend of his had just given him a high quality collector item knife - more a keepsake than any real weapon - it’s blade only a few inches long. After it was taken it was pretty clear there was no intention of returning it to him in that it was placed in a metal box already containing multiple knives taken from others. Nothing was done to indicate the knife was his no receipt given for any of the property taken from him.

And so it goes. It’s pretty clear my friend will be back on the street long before he gets transitioned to something else. And for him as well as others treated this way, it will be concluded that they were better off on the street than in a cold isolated place with nothing to do, no friends, and whole new ways for the homeless to be insulted as somehow lesser than others.

 

On Wed, Jan 19, 2022 at 10:29 AM David Dickson <dicksondavidk@...> wrote:

Great story, Keith!  The multiple solutions approach makes great sense.  PSU’s Homeless Research and Action Collaborative’s recent research on Villages is encouraging relative to the Safe Rest Village approach.  But the Oregonian’s survey of people on the street reveals our shortcomings in what might be the most important thing we can do—getting to know our unsheltered neighbors and staying connected with them as they navigate their way to a better situation.  The city’s funding for its outreach/navigation staffing is increasing by 50%.  Let’s hope that added resources, along with more focused objectives and accountability, will make a difference.



On Jan 19, 2022, at 9:34 AM, Keith Wilson <keithwilson@...> wrote:

 

General Jeff – The Mayor of Skid Row is gone at 56

 

I was honored to meet Jeff at our PDX Shelter Forum meeting early last year. Thank you, Tim McCormick, for bringing us together. Jeff spoke to us at the forum about LA’s Skid Row where the homeless situation is out of control, has persisted for generations and has no end or solution in sight. Jeff implored us to take action to help the few thousand souls on the Portland streets, before it reaches a point with no turning back, like Skid Row has become.

 

Jeff and I met again this past August in LA. He graciously spent an entire day as my tour guide of Skid Row. I wanted to know exactly what he meant. Why is homelessness in LA so intractable? Why has homelessness in Portland grown and what might we do to change the outcome? What can we learn?

 

In our conversation, Jeff expressed frustration that over the years, money was thrown at the issue but was not ever tied to measurable outcomes to prove that the funding was making a difference to the homeless. Poor leadership continued to fund but without accountability. He wanted to see things get better.

 

On my visit, I specifically wanted to review LA’s Safe Rest Villages like those proposed in Portland. I wanted to know if they work. He was clear, “Yes!” His response, “cities have to provide a bunch of solutions. Safe Rest Villages are just one of many possible solutions. If you only have one restaurant in town and they sell crappy food, who will want to walk into.” “To end homelessness, we need to think of services as a bunch of restaurants with a menu of choices.” Each person has a different set of needs, and we need to provide a wide array of shelter options to meet our neighbors where and with what they need to survive and thrive. But the street should never be a destination.

 

At the end of the day, I offered to take him home. He declined, commenting that he used to live in an SRO. I recalled living in one years ago in NYC, it was all I could afford when I was starting out. We shared our SRO experiences. I suspect he was living on the street, in the shadows of the gleaming buildings that make up downtown LA. I dropped him off in the middle of Skid Row where he said he was going to visit his people some more.

 

Jeff pulls no punches and tells it like it is. If you are interested, here is his story: The powerful legacy of General Jeff Page, West Coast hip-hop pioneer and ‘mayor of skid row’

 

This past December, I tried to call him to say “Hello” and “Happy Holidays”. That is when I learned he had passed away. At 56, he lived seven years longer than the average life span for a houseless person which is 49 years of age.

 

I am happy to have met Jeff. I am sad to see him go. Even more sad to know that in his life of advocacy for the homeless he has only seen the suffering in his neighborhood grow. I hope our neighbors in Portland can do better.

 

Keith

 

<General Jeff - Skid Row.jpg><General Jeff - Skid Row Photo.jpg>

 

 

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