Tag Archives: homelessness

Spend 24 hours on the streets with Street Roots #SR24

20.5jpgStreet Roots will be giving the public an extensive look inside the world of homelessness over a 24-hour period through Twitter.

Eight reporters and staff will be working around the clock to deliver interviews and imagery in the field with homeless and formerly homeless individuals, social service and health care providers, law enforcement and policy makers.

The organization will be reporting live from social service agencies to offer a closer look at local shelters, drop-in centers, tent cities and homeless camps. We will be visiting with formerly homeless individuals in their homes, spending time with the police, policy makers, health care providers, outreach workers, buskers and sleeping out on the streets.

You won’t want to miss it.

Street Roots will be reporting over Twitter using the hashtag #SR24.

We will also be encouraging others to take part in a lively conversation on the issue of homelessness and to share your thoughts and experiences on the subject matter.

Street Roots will then be publishing the 24-hour look on homelessness in the next edition of the newspaper coming out on Friday, December 21.

When: Thursday, December 13, starting at 6 a.m.

Where: Street Roots Twitter feed at @StreetRoots hashtag #SR24

Reporters and staff working on the project include: Joanne Zuhl, @jozuhl, Cole Merkel, @ColeMerkel, Robert Britt, @BobBrittPDX, Sue Zalokar @SueZalokar, Jake Thomas @jakethomas2009, Alex Zielinski, @alex_zee, Israel Bayer, @IsraelBayer, Sarah Beecroft, @skjalf

Sex, lies and homelessness

Maggie Lorenz-Todd looks out from the bedroom of her Portland home. “We’re going to do everything and anything we can to not be outside at night. It’s survival.” Photo by Christopher Onstott

By Alex Zielinski, Staff Writer

When DeWanna Harris first walked through the doors of Transition Projects five years ago, she was at the end of her rope.

“I was so, so tired of life just tearing me up,” Harris, a Portland native, says. Continue reading

Candidate forum on housing next week!

Facebook event group here.

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If your “to do” list for the weekend is getting a little long, then pencil in a break with your friendly neighborhood Street Roots vendor and a great read. The new Street Roots will arrive early Friday morning, so don’t forget to pack a buck for the best little newspaper in town. Here’s what’s rolling on the presses now:

Trash Talk: An interview with author Edward Humes about his new book, “Garbology” about the consequences of our garbage affliction.

Death by plastic: What happens to all that plastic we throw away? The albatross are eating it. Photographer Chris Jordan documents the revealing contents of their stomachs.

The homecoming: Despite renewed support for voucher system to house veterans, local numbers fall short.

Oregon’s great health care experiment: This month the state puts $240 million on the line with coordinated care organizations.

Plus, the latest from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the Western Regional Advocacy Project and Ramona’s mom, Melissa Favara. And, of course, the best street poetry in the country! Pick up your copy first thing Friday morning and the weekend will be off to a great start. From all the vendors, volunteers and staff — thank you!

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There’s so much to do in Portland in the summer, including setting up your Saturday morning reading station at your favorite neighborhood café. But before you start the weekend, remember to pick up the latest edition of Street Roots from your local vendor. It’s packed with news, poetry, and all kinds of good stuff to make the weekend sweeter. Here’s what’s rolling on the press now:

Pre-Occupied with Noam Chomsky: An interview with the prolific voice of a generation on his new book about the global Occupy movement.

The gravity of abuse: Part III: The latest in our four-part series on one family’s descent through domestic violence. It’s not your typical report on abuse. This is a compelling story that takes you inside the lives of the abuser and the abused.

Martin Zarzar’s new beat: An interview with Pink Martini percussionist Martin Zarzar about his new album and its worldly influences.

Plus — commentary from Portland Police Sgt. Greg Stewart on domestic violence in our community, a look inside two inspiring books — one old, one new — from Maurice Sendak, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, and the best poetry you’ll find in any newspaper west of the Rockies. So pick up your copy of Street Roots first thing tomorrow morning. Your vendor will thank you!

Breaking: Safety net funding prevails in city budget hearing

By Joanne Zuhl
Staff Writer

After months of speculation over budget cuts and service reductions, Portland’s safety net for the homeless and poor has tentatively been restored in this morning’s City Council meeting with the pending passage of the city’s 2012-13 draft budget.

City Commissioner Nick Fish pushed forward two amendments to Mayor Sam Adams’ budget proposal before the final vote. The first was a request for $250,000 to fully restore the city’s one-time funding for services to the current level of $4.8 million. The bulk of the funding pays for emergency shelter and short-term rent assistance to keep families in their homes, and quickly restore housing to people who become homeless. It also includes funding for overnight shelter and supportive housing at the Bud Clark Commons, and referral and information resources.

Staffing vacancies from retirements were credited with freeing up the money, which is earmarked for foreclosure prevention and homeownership support.

As one-time allocations, the funding for these services come up for renewal with each budget cycle, and were subject to reductions at the mayor’s discretion — this, despite the services’ priority status by city’s Office of Management Finance.

Fish’s second amendment changes all that, reclassifying the serial one-time request to ongoing funding.

“The direction will be over the next two years to fold in $4.6 million of safety net funding into the ongoing budget, so we don’t have to go over this exercise each year,” Fish said. “The Office of Management Finance has identified this as a priority but the city was using an unstable source of funding. My job is to hold the council’s feet to the fire.”

Both amendments passed unanimously.

Fish credited the momentum to preserve the safety net to a months-long campaign featuring images of citizens and civic leaders holding a sign stating, “I support the Portland Safety Net.” The campaign was organized by a coalition of organizations and individuals, including Street Roots, JOIN, Oregon Opportunity Network, and the Community Alliance of Tenants. “It made a difference,” Fish said.

Shifting those services from one-time to ongoing funding streams has been a goal of Fish since he took office. “It really completes for me a four-year journey in what may end up being one of the toughest budget cycles we go through.”

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What an exciting time to be a Portlander! Spring is in full stride, election buzz is in the air, and the new Street Roots arrives tomorrow morning! Don’t forget to tuck a buck in your purse, wallet or back pocket to trade for the finest news source in town, delivered by the friendliest vendors in the city. Here’s what’s rolling on the press now:

‘Domicile unknown:”  Multnomah County releases its first report on how many homeless people died on our streets last year. The report is proudly co-authored by Street Roots, which lead the campaign to better understand the toll taken by homelessness.

Portland Children’s Levy first budget reductions cut deep: With property tax revenues in decline, the Portland Children’s Levy was forced to make drastic reductions to programs that benefit low-income children in minority populations.

Just one more question!: Candidates for mayor, city council give their final answers on what they will do to improve the state of homelessness and housing in Portland.

Beat of a gypsy Hart: An interview with former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart in advance of his performance here in Portland, which will feature, of course, the universe.

Plus much much more, including commentaries by Janice Thompson of Common Cause on the money behind the mayor’s race, and from Gay and Grey on growing old gracefully in the queer community. And you’ll want to check out the poetry and prose of students at the Native American Youth and Family Center’s Language Arts Class, part of NAYA’s Early College Academy. And we’d love to hear from you, too. So let us know what you think by visiting our website, www.streetroots.org. and send in your letters and thoughts. Thank you for your support!


Annual memorial remembers those who died on the streets

Individuals who died while living on the streets were remembered this afternoon at St. Andre Bessette Roman Catholic Parish in a service hosted by Operation Nightwatch, a non-profit ministry addressing social isolation.

Nearly 100 names were read as candles were lit simultaneously during the interfaith service, which included Hebrew scripture, native American song, an Islamic prayer, a Buddhist meditation and a reading of the Christian beatitudes.

The service, now in its 27th year, allowed open reflection for people to come to the altar and share the names and a memory of their relatives who had died.

“We are here to remember those who died of natural causes, of illness and of injustices,” said Father Stephen Newton during the ceremony. Roger Fuchs, pastor of Operation Nightwatch, shared a poem, “If Not You,” that he composed specifically for the day.

Portland safety net swings in balance of city budget talks

City’s housing and homeless services play the competitive waiting game for coveted one-time appropriations

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

Looking at the housing and homeless landscape these days, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish paints a pretty grim picture.

“It’s a rising tide of need with declining resources. That’s it in a nutshell,” says Fish, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau. “We’ve got more adults and families facing homelessness, more families being priced out of the housing market. We’ve got historic vacancy rates. Unemployment is still very high. We’re now catching the foreclosure fever. We’re still in a deep recession, and we have fewer resources to meet the need. It’s a perfect storm.”

This from a self-proclaimed glass-half-full kind of guy.

That internal optimism will be needed as the city slogs forward in its 2012-13 budget “cutting” process, with all bureaus asked by Mayor Sam Adams to submit reduction proposals of 4, 6 and 8 percent. In addition to the bureau packages, the mayor has to decide how the shrunken pool of one-time money — funding allocated in each cycle by the mayor — is divvied up. Last year, that was a pool of about $23 million. This year it’s projected at about $11 million.

Of that, Fish’s Portland Housing Bureau is asking for nearly $4.8 million to pay for the city’s social safety net: short-term rent assistance, shelter and emergency services, housing access and homeownership programs, and the Bud Clark Commons. It’s not new money, but it is subject to the mayor and council’s approval, each with their own bureau budgets in play. The police bureau alone is asking for $5.4 million in one-time funding. The mayor is expected to come out with his budget in early May. Continue reading

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Street Roots vendors pack the office every other Friday morning and share their positive stories about you, our readers. It’s an important relationship for so many of the men and women who work every day, rain or shine – and sometimes a little snow! Here’s what’s on the press right now:

“People will be talking about it:” An interview with Jo Ann Hardesty (formerly Bowman) about the Portland Charter Commission and the lost opportunities for police reform.

Social determinants of health “intrinsic” but left out in Salem: As lawmakers work to create a new health care structure around the Oregon Health Plan, people who work on issues of housing, addiction and socio-economic concerns are getting short shrift in new policies.

Vancouver, B.C.’s drug revolution: How the Canadian city pushes the envelope when it comes to harm reduction, addiction and recovery.

“Play your heart out … and hope that someone is out there listening:” An interview with musician Lindsay Fuller on her unusual lyrical style and need to inflict a little discomfort now and then.

And so the madness continues: Angela Martin with Economic Fairness Oregon follows up on our report on foreclosure reform efforts in Salem by looking at the real impact the laws could have to save people’s homes.

Plus, commentaries by economist Robin Hahnel and Neighborhood Partnerships, along with vendor poetry. New paper hits the streets Friday morning, so don’t forget to stash a buck in your wallet before heading out tomorrow, and carry a smile for your friendly neighborhood vendor. Thank you!

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Winter in Portland has finally caught up with us, especially the hard-working men and women out selling Street Roots. Remember to keep a dollar or two dry when you head out this weekend and pick up the latest edition of Street Roots from your friendly neighborhood vendor. Here’s what’s rolling on the press right now:

Another political casualty: Needle exchange programs rely on local support after the feds bail on funding. Amanda Waldroupe reports on how the policy reversal in Washington D.C. makes local funding even more critical.

Corporations aren’t people — except in politics: Janice Thompson with Common Cause looks at the impact of the Citizens United case one year on, with a reflection on the city’s own resolution condemning the Supreme Court decision on corporate personhood.

Barred for life: An interview with Harvard professor Bruce Western on inequality in America and the consequences we’re all paying as a result.

Patient Physician Cooperative seeks to remodel health care: A new, non-insurance way of paying for health care in Portland.

Plus, news, poetry, artwork and commentaries by economist Robin Hahnel, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and a review of a new book that investigates the student loan industry. Remember to bring a little sunshine into your weekend with a smile for your neighborhood vendor and a new edition of Street Roots. Thank you!

Calling City Hall, Occupy Portland on housing…

In spirit, the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland protests over the past five weeks are about creating social change, locally and nationally, on a range of policy matters from poverty to foreign wars.

For better or worse, many of the organic protests staging camps throughout the country have gotten a hard dose of reality about what life is like for hundreds of thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the United States.

Occupy Portland, the media, City Hall, police and others around town have more times than not keyed in on the mishaps and barriers to people experiencing mental health and homelessness at the downtown camps. What none of the parties have effectively done is put things into perspective, and call on specific policy changes and resource development for people experiencing poverty.

In one of many of Mayor Sam Adams communiqués to general public he said, “The Occupy Portland movement has highlighted the challenges our community, like many across the country, are facing with homelessness. Too many in our community are without a safe place to call home. Despite fiscal challenges, the City has continued to invest in long-term solutions to end homelessness. Commissioner Fish and I will be working closely with our dedicated network of service providers to make sure everyone at the camp is aware of the resources that are available. Experienced outreach workers will be reaching out to the homeless people at the camp to help them access existing resources in our community, like health care, emergency shelter, permanent housing placement assistance, and short term needs.”

The problem is that adequate resources do not exist for permanent housing or mental health services in our community.

The City of Portland is anticipating significant federal and local cuts that will challenge its ability to keep the safety net intact and provide housing for those most in need. No doubt, we live in challenging times. During a period of increased need for our services, and the people of Portland, budgets are declining — seriously declining for the Portland Housing Bureau.

In fact, if projections are correct, the city’s essential housing agency is on pace to lose tens of millions of dollars next year due to the decline in tax increment financing, cuts at the federal level, and sweeping city-wide cuts of between 4 and 8 percent to all city bureaus. In addition, one-time general fund dollars allocated for homelessness and housing services are always a crisis away from disappearing. The other side of this coin is unsustainably high unemployment and dwindling support systems to staunch the flow of tomorrow’s homeless.

The system is teetering. Hence, Occupy Portland and the call for social change.

What’s the answer? Nationally, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been met with mixed results and a growing movement of people who call the group disorganized, fractured, and lacking in planning and objectives. Saying that, even in the face of apathy and a conservative backlash, the movement has inspired close to a million Americans over six weeks to move their accounts from larger banking institutions to local credit unions and community-owned banks. The movement also influenced other banking institutions to drop debit card fees — showing that regardless of all of the white noise — consumer power still has muscle, even if on a smaller scale.

Locally, the signs of success are harder to pinpoint.

City Hall and others have said Occupy Portland needs a goal, and contrary to the big picture messaging, that goal doesn’t have to be a nationwide sea change to be a success. There are real solutions within our reach, within sight of City Hall, and responsive to the issues Occupy Portland as amplified.

Here’s what Street Roots thinks the city and Occupy Portland should work toward:

—   Secure $1 million dollars for rent assistance this winter, protecting vulnerable renters from losing their housing. It is always less costly, and more humane, to preserve housing than to restore it.

—   Waive the budget cuts to the Portland Housing Bureau in the 2012-13 budget due to the financial, employment and housing crisis.

—   Guarantee one-time allocations towards homeless, housing and mental health services in the 2012-13 budget. There are thousands of people who are one service away from the streets, and countless services struggling to manage that demand.

—   Loosen the stringent laws around camping to allow churches and private businesses to host orderly places for people to sleep. (See our editorial.)

—   Work with the county and state to develop a strategy to backfill millions of dollars lost for mental health services.

—   Aggressively pursue a regional strategy – working with willing partners at the federal state and local levels — to develop sustainable, long-term resources.

If Occupy Portland and City Hall are both serious about creating social change and effecting policy in a healthy environment for people on the streets — the bullets outlined above are what help get us there. Everyone deserves a safe and decent home. Everyone deserves opportunity.

Breaking News: Homeless stake out their own “occupation”

Ibrahim Mubarak in front of the new homeless "occupation" at Fourth and Burnside.

With all the focus on the Occupy Portland event downtown, a second encampment has emerged, this one by people experiencing homelessness taking over a corner at NW Fourth Avenue and Burnside. The squat, on a vacant plot of land, is being organized through Right 2 Survive, a grassroots movement of people in homelessness and is being called “Right to Dream Too,” or R2D2. The encampment’s spokesperson is Ibrahim Mubarak (pictured above), a longtime advocate on homeless issues and one of the spearheads behind Dignity Village.  There’s more to come, but here is an excerpt of the initial statement from the group: Continue reading

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It’s that time again to catch up with your friendly neighborhood vendor and get the latest news from Street Roots. Tomorrow morning, vendors will be out at their posts with a new edition, featuring a reader survey we hope you’ll take a moment to complete. Here’s what also on tap:

Jenny Conlee’s fight song: The accordion player and keyboardist with the Decemberists talks frankly about her cancer, and what the road ahead looks like now.

Parks bureau to create new rangers to patrol public parks: Portland Parks and Recreation has long contracted with the business community, which then subcontracted out services to provide security in downtown parks. Now the parks’ bureau is looking at shifting some of those daytime responsibilities to full-time park rangers, with closer ties to City Hall.

 The candid candidate: Jeri Williams offers up her own brand of politics as she puts herself into the race for Randy Leonard’s City Council seat.

Occupying Wall Street: A photo essay on what’s happening on Wall Street in New York, where hundreds of demonstrators have taken over the streets to protest politics, war and, well, pure and simple greed.

Needy families show strain from state cuts: TANF programs, already slashed earlier this year, drop again Oct. 1, and as programs get whittled down, families are losing their grip.

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The summer festival season is almost over, but every two weeks there’s always something to celebrate – the new edition of Street Roots! And it’s all yours for only a $1 donation. Here’s what we’re working on now:

All in good faith: A small nonprofit rooted in Oregon’s Muslim community has become an unexpected haven for families in need. Stacy Brownhill interviews the president of the Islamic Social Services of Oregon State.

Poverty figures unlikely to change course anytime soon: U.S. Census figures do not bode well for people in poverty, whose ranks have risen to their highest since 1993. Voices from the front lines give their views.

‘We will get justice … nothing will stop us’: Fifty years since the notorious drug thalidomide was banned in the United Kingdom, the company who produced the drug have yet to apologize for causing birth defects around the world. Campaigners are taking the fight to a German pharmaceutical giant in their pursuit for justice.

Settlement gives homeless campers time to move property. Oregon Department of Transportation now must give a 10-day notice on pending property removal on its right-of-ways, sparing homeless campers the loss of property.

Taking a long walk through the valley of homelessness. One man who knows the streets first hand is embarking on a 1,400-mile walk to chronicle the plight of the homeless.

Plus, commentaries from Mayor Sam Adams and Amanda Fritz, Environmental Justice Oregon, Western States, and the Community Action Partnership of Oregon. There’s also poetry, our new Curbside column, and the most challenging crosswords you’ll find this side of Pacific Ocean! So pick up your copy Friday morning and lend a smile to a vendor or two. It truly makes a difference!