Tag Archives: East Portland

East Portland’s violent little secret: A special report on the alarming rate of domestic violence in the city’s least served communities

By Anthony Schick, Contributing writer

Maria spent one week in Portland with her abuser. Her husband, who had controlled her psychologically, financially and physically for the past four years tricked her into leaving their California home together. He told her he had friends in Portland. He didn’t. He told her he wanted to leave problems behind and start a new life together. Then he struck her and their daughter within days of arriving. Then he was gone, back to California, and she didn’t follow. Maria found herself alone and abused with two children in a foreign city.

“He brought me here by deceiving me,” Maria said through a translator. She wished not to reveal her full identity for personal safety. “He had another woman in California. His ‘idea’ was for him to end the other relationship and move to Portland. But the way I understand it, he got rid of us so he could start a life with the other woman.”

Eight years later, Maria recalled that through support groups at El Programa Hispano and Human Solutions, she realized how far back the abuse went. First came the verbal abuse, usually after he drank and used drugs – crystal meth on at least one occasion. Then came the blows. Through those support groups, Maria also noticed similarities to her childhood and the real reason she wanted her abuser out of her life.

As a child, both Maria’s parents physically abused her. She was also sexually abused. She witnessed her father holding a knife over her mother  (an incident all survived thanks to her uncle’s intervention). And Maria’s father, like her husband years later, withheld money from his family to fund an alcohol addiction and an extramarital affair.

“I didn’t want my children to have the life I had,” she said.

So Maria began a new life in Northeast Portland with her two children, where they shared a house with another family, and the three slept in the corner of a living room. Welfare helped them scrape by until she found a job that allowed them to find a new, safer home.

Maria accessed permanent shelter and services soon after leaving her abuser; many don’t. Despite a declining number in Portland’s reported domestic violence incidents in the past three years, shelters are becoming more crowded. Access to shelter and other resources remains most difficult in East Portland, which is at once the location of 40 percent of all domestic violence incidents, the city’s most populous precinct and the Police Bureau’s family services division. Continue reading

Jefferson Smith’s view from the east

By Israel Bayer, Staff Writer

Jefferson Smith? Don’t know the name? You soon will.

Smith is an Oregon representative for the House District 47 that encompasses East Multnomah County. His working-class district has seen dramatic changes in recent years, including having thousands of immigrants and refugees flock to east Portland and Gresham, and absorbing a wave of poor folks from inner Portland who have been displaced over the past two decades by gentrification. The neighborhoods and schools that make up Smith’s district are full of a rich diversity of cultures and economics, yet there are major challenges.

While some areas of Portland are experiencing a renaissance of young, affluent, mostly white individuals and families moving to the city’s urban core, many native Portlanders and Oregonians continue to be pushed to the outer rings of the city by economics.

Less than 4 percent of Portland’s transportation money is spent east of 82nd Avenue. When $11 million in a federally subsidized loan program became available for schools — steered by the Portland Development Commission and the city — no school east of Interstate 205 was invited to apply for the funding, despite the fact that between 24 percent and 28 percent of Portlanders and more than 40 percent of Portland’s schoolchildren live East of 82nd Avenue.

Smith is fighting back, or at least he’s trying. One of the founding members of the Oregon Bus Project, a grassroots, youth-oriented political mobilizer, Smith is now faced with working for a district that is feeling the brunt of the recession and trying to find a formula for success fore residents of East Portland.

Israel Bayer: You have argued that the city has neglected and ignored the needs of East Portland. Can you put this into perspective?

Jefferson Smith: I want to encourage the positive efforts, including the East Portland Action Plan (a citizen task force with a small budget), the Rosewood Initiative (community safety around 162nd & Burnside), Gateway Green (a park near Gateway), and more. At the same time, we need to keep East of 82nd in mind as we consider big decisions, such as stimulus, transportation dollars, subsidized loans for energy retrofits, and urban renewal dollars.

I don’t want to say ignored or neglected. Rather, I would say that there has been a tradition of underinvestment, and we need to increase the priority and the urgency to change that tradition. I have had some robust conversations with City officials, many of whom have a lot of knowledge to share. I am hopeful that the City will achieve meaningful results, work to turn around the underinvestment, and create a new tradition. Continue reading

East Portland deserves a fresh look

It may not have the refinement of the Pearl or Boise neighborhoods, or the earthy vibrancy of the city’s downtown, or even the modern quaint feel of Northeast Portland’s creative districts. It isn’t blessed with the coveted shaded lanes of the inner Southwest or the views and real estate of the West Hills.

But East Portland is, without the benefit of any comparable government investment, the home of more and more working-class families, newly arriving immigrant communities, small businesses trying to make a go, and lower-income individuals who cannot afford the rest of the city. This isn’t where most eyes turn to when they think of the city of Portland’s development efforts or priorities, and that’s for good reason. It simply hasn’t garnered the same level of clout, or money, as other regions of the city, even though nearly one-third of the city’s population lives beyond 82nd Avenue. Continue reading

Street Roots preps new office in East Portland

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Street Roots new office on NE 81st & Halsey will open in December thanks to Visions Into Action and the United Way of Columbia-Willamette and our partners at JOIN.  Twenty new sales locations for vendors experiencing homelessness and poverty are expected to open up in East Portland.

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Israel Bayer and Eddy Barbosa work at new location.