Tag Archives: homelessness

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Don’t let the cool breezes make you give up on summer. There’s hot stuff coming your way this weekend — and that includes Street Roots! Your friendly neighborhood vendor will be stocked up come Friday morning, so have your dollar and a friendly smile ready to go. Here’s what’s rolling off the press right now:

‘Never say never’: A talk with Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen on what’s wrong, what’s right, and what could be.

A very gendered experience: The first survey of its kind reveals startling statistics about the health and experiences of homeless women.

A good read: This summer, Portland writer and educator Laura Moulton took it upon herself to bring a mobile library to the streets. Her project captured the attention of not only people experiencing homelessness, but the community at large, people in the media, and a devoted cadre of volunteers.

 ‘I have a sense of urgency, but we need to do it right.’ Controversy over the city’s fair housing audit doesn’t sway efforts to push forward on a plan for more tests.

Plus commentary from The Bus Project and the Center for Intercultural Organizing, along with more news, a new vendor profile and some of the best poetry from the streets. And the crossword is back! Don’t forget to grab your Street Roots before you head out of town, or make sure you get one before next week begins. Your vendor will thank you!

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There’s so much to do this summer, so stay on schedule by getting your new copy of Street Roots piping hot off the press Friday morning. Vendors will be out in force at your favorite neighborhood haunts with papers and stickers on hand. Give a buck and a smile and you’ll be on track for a great weekend! Here’s what’s rolling your way:

 “Life” on the line:  One local parish is pioneering a way to help people on the street keep track of their medical records and health care needs. Stacy Brownhill reports on the Downtown Chapel’s Vial of Life program for people experiencing homelessness.

 “It’s time for them to go home:” New laws will change the way the Oregon State Hospital admits, releases patients. Amanda Waldroupe reports.

Human services budget “horrendous:” TANF survives with longer time limit, resources partially intact. Amanda Waldroupe reports on the latest incarnation of the state’s social-service budget.

John Miller: Oregon Opportunity Network’s new executive director talks about the triumphs and challenges to making housing affordable to all.

 A voice for the most vulnerable: Sue Hyde talks about the complicated pressures placed on homeless LGBT youths.

All this plus poetry, commentary from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Leo Rhodes and news you can use. Don’t forget to pick up a sticker with the new edition, and, as always, let us know what you think. Thank you!

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It will be April 1 tomorrow, so be on your toes for those merry pranksters, looking to take advantage of your trusting ways! But you’ll never be steered wrong by your friendly neighborhood vendor, who will have the April 1 edition of the newspaper in their hands extra early tomorrow. Save the date!

Oh, Portlandia! Street Roots’ courtesy entertainment reporter Valeria Peacock interviews Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein about their hot project, and how they really feel about homelessness.

Mayor Sam Adams running in 2012? Street Roots has the inside scoop on Sam’s plans. You’ve got to see this…

Rep. David Wu’s strange haberdashery: More odd photos surface of the Congressman following reports of his unusual behavior.

The Japanese fallout: What the West Coast should brace for following the disaster in Japan.

Whither the weather? How all of us are feeling may go much deeper now that the sun seems to have left us for good.

That, plus much more news-like stuff and even a bit of fun thrown in for good measure. Get your copy before you head into work Friday, and don’t forget to send a smile to your neighborhood vendor. Thank you!

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Chase away the winter blahs with a hot chocolate and an even hotter edition of Street Roots! We’re at the press with 16 pages of news, commentary and poetry, all delivered by your friendly neighborhood vendor first thing Friday morning. Here’s what coming:

One nation, under lock and key: An interview with lawyer Michelle Alexander, author of  “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, who calls for new a social movement to change the criminal justice system.

Life after foreclosure: An interview with Good Grief America founder Nancie Koerber, who talks about the Oregon’s movement to empower victims of the foreclosure crisis together to fight back.

100 years after 1,000 homeless men: A century after a Chicago social worker chronicled the experiences and challenges of homeless men, her words still ring true.

Street Blues: Officer Robert Pickett busts the myths of police work perpetuated by Hollywood and beyond.

Healthy Streetbeat: The Bicycle Transportation Alliance delivers another great column about pedestrian use of public space, and how we can do better.

Old Town wants drug free zone restored: The Old Town Chinatown and Pearl neighborhoods are calling on Mayor Sam Adams to reinstated the controversial ordinance that was shot down three years ago over concerns of racial disparity and civil rights encroachments. Advocates, police, business owners and residents speak out.

All that and more, including a great vendor profile, commentary and poetry from the streets. Get your copy bright and early Friday morning and your weekend will be off to a great start. Thank you!

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More vendors than ever are selling Street Roots, so you’ll be seeing a few new faces out on the beat. Like all of our crew, they’re working hard to bring you the latest edition, which is on the press today. Here’s what’s coming your way Friday morning:

All the world’s a stage: Musicians and performers vie for attention in downtown Portland sidewalks. Now the city is looking at revisiting an aging agreement on how buskers and businesses can peaceably share the spotlight.

Sidewalk management clears sit-lie hurdles of years past: Nothing is perfect, but the ordinance in place seems to have quelled much of the fury over how we use our downtown sidewalks.

Health care, once — and for all: Dr. Margaret Flowers talks about the renewed campaign for single-payer health care coverage, even as Washington D.C. looks at gutting reform altogether

Street Roots 2010 Annual Report: A rundown of the past year, recognizing our vendors, volunteers and supporters who made 2010 remarkable.

Plus, commentary, poetry and opinion from the streets, with just a dash of weather forecasting from Soup Can Sam. Get yours Friday morning and your prep for the weekend will be complete!

Auditor’s report on homelessness confusing, misleading…

An auditor’s report put out yesterday came with headlines that homelessness has had increased by 50 percent since 2006 in Multnomah County. Due to the increase of services requested and the sheer number of people sleeping outdoors — it’s thought that the number of individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty has increased both in Portland, and around the country.  Still, the report and the headlines failed to give any proper perspective.

From the Auditor’s office relating to homelessness, “Since FY 2005-06, the percent of homeless households placed in stable housing, and still housed after six months, exceeded 80 percent each year.  Those still housed after 12 months increased from 68 percent in FY 2005-06 to 78 percent in FY 2009-10.”

But what does this mean?

According SR calculations based upon multiple reports this means that nearly 80 percent (up from 68 percent in 2005) of nearly 8,000 people who have been housed through the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness have retained housing.

The auditor’s report goes on to say, “The number of homeless persons was more than 50 percent higher in FY 2009-10 than in FY 2005-06, based on Multnomah County’s one night shelter count.”

The number of homeless people increasing 50 percent based upon the one-night shelter count is confusing and misleading. We won’t actually have a number to base this point on until January when the one-night street count occurs. While the one-night street count has its own set of challenges, it will give us a better insight into what’s actually happening on the ground right now.

One of the reasons for the confusion is because the one-night shelter count happens annually, while the street count (mandated by the Feds) is done every other year. The formula has created a confusing message about the actual number of people on the streets.

Saying that, there’s no question that homelessness and the need for services has most likely increased, but simply saying that it’s increased 50 percent is actually not accurate.

Update: According to a source close to the city and county, “the key reason why the numbers in the shelter count increased so much is because over the past four years the State has mandated the inclusion of additional categories into the one-night shelter count number. Most notably, it now includes everyone in permanent supportive housing, and receiving rent assistance. It is not only misleading to define those people as “homeless,” but it also means that the number has increased significantly due to a definitional change that may or may not have any relationship  to the number of people who are (actually) homeless.”

Why does any of this matter? Large institutions, newspaper editorials, advocates and think-tanks will use these numbers to spin their message to the broader public — which in turn will help spur calls for more help on one-side, and for less government support on the other.

Posted by Israel Bayer

Editorial: Lessons in housing relocation demand change

In “Times up at the West,” (Street Roots, Nov. 12) we highlighted both the challenges and successes of the Macdonald Center to create 42 units of affordable housing in downtown Portland. They’re doing so by demolishing a 27-unit, run-down 100-year-old building now housing extremely poor and vulnerable people. The project is billed at $10 million.

The move means more than two-dozen people have, or will have to relocate to other housing in the city. Unfortunately, with only 60 days notice given in early October, some of the most vulnerable of Portland’s housed population is at risk of becoming homeless on Dec. 1. In this edition, relocation expert Martha Gies puts into perspective the complexities of these moves, and the myriad obstacles involved.

During our investigation we found a series of missteps that have led to the unfortunate circumstances. The Oregon Housing and Community Services seemed to be asleep at the wheel after Street Roots discovered that an agreement between the state agency and the Macdonald Center called for giving people 180-day notices, not just 60-day notices. (The Macdonald Center did send a letter nearly 2 years ago giving tenants information about the upcoming relocations, but no specific timeline or date was given as to the point of eviction.)

Sources also tell SR that the Macdonald Center, uninitiated in the relocation process, did not hire a professional relocation specialist until we began our investigation into the matter in mid-November.

The City of Portland for the most part has remained on the sidelines, while already cash-strapped non-profits work frantically to get people from the West into housing with very little resources.

We call for a time-out.

Maybe it’s possible that everyone at the West will find housing. With the recent hire of a relocation specialist and the partnerships created with local non-profits, we would like to think that all the residents of the West will have a warm place to celebrate the holidays: that despite the lack of oversight by the state and bureaucratic missteps, everything will be all right in the end. But when affordable housing’s best and brightest bring people so perilously close to the streets, we’ve got problems.

We believe in the Macdonald Center. The organization delivers top-notch, award-winning services to the elderly and low-income people of the region. The project will create safe and clean housing units for people currently living on the streets, a much-needed addition to the neighborhood.

The state and the city should work with any Macdonald Center residents unable to find adequate housing by the Dec. 1 eviction date, so that they will be allowed to continue living there until such housing is obtained.

Likewise, the state and the city need to close the loopholes that contribute to these circumstances by requiring that any affordable housing project mirror federal law to require the full relocations of people currently living in low-income housing. Now that we know the system’s faults and consequences, we have to fix it. There are lives hanging in the balance.

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Shake off that turkey stupor Friday morning with a brisk walk to your local neighborhood Street Roots vendor and pick up a copy of the city’s best independent newspaper. Here’s what’s on the press right now:

Case unclosed: Amanda Waldroupe reports on the quest by one Portland Police Bureau detective to track down the killer of a homeless man who was stabbed to death nearly three years ago.

In their shoes: A look inside the weekly service and ceremony of foot care at the Downtown Chapel. Cassandra Koslen reports.

Every time we say goodbye, or “What I learned about Relocation”: Low-income housing relocation expert Martha Gies writes about the complexities and complications that arise when housing projects undergo renovation or destruction, with a historical perspective on how much we have lost.

The quality of whose life?: The first in a four-part series on the country’s modern anti-poor movement, this edition covers the rise in so-called quality-of-life initiatives that often discriminate against the poor.

Street Blues: Robert Pickett writes about the limbo police and mental health workers have to operate within when working with people experiencing homelessness.

And much, much more! So grab a buck or two and pick up your copy first thing Friday. It may just be the most important thing you read this weekend. And from our vendors, staff and volunteers – thank you and happy holidays!

 

New police column in SR — Street Blues: Black and white to gray

Editor’s note: Street Roots welcomes Officer Robert Pickett to our line of diverse columnists. Picket offers a fresh perspective from the view of a police officer working directly with our streets. We hope readers will gain a new understanding of the complex interaction betweeen homelessness, public safety and law enforcement that occurs daily in Portland.

I gotta drink or I’ll be sick!”

It was 9:30 a.m. and Mr. Hendricks was already halfway through a six-pack.  I’d found him under the Morrison Bridge approach in the inner southeast industrial district, and he fit perfectly the description of someone who had just committed a “beer run” from a nearby convenience store. His frank admission about why he stole the beer summed up the complex situation brilliantly.

Mr. Hendricks had been a frequent consumer of police services in this area over the past month.   Passersby had been calling often about the tall, dark-haired gentleman who was often staggering in traffic or dropping his pants to pee in full view of Portland’s public.  Convenience stores had also been calling about their escaping beer. I’d personally dealt with him a number of times, as had other officers in the district. Our solution was often to call Hooper Detox, which would dispatch a van to come and take him to the drunk tank for a few hours. Detox staff would sometimes check his blood alcohol level with a portable breathalyzer, so I knew that Mr. Hendricks’ baseline BAC was a number that would probably leave me unconscious, or at best praying to the porcelain god. He’d developed such a tolerance that he was almost fully functional at that level. Unfortunately if he let it drop too far below that, his body would begin going through withdrawal — sickening, possibly deadly, if not monitored carefully.  Living outside, without any income, Mr. Hendricks did the only thing he could think of to get the medicine he needed — he stole it.

Clearly, one of my jobs is to enforce criminal laws, but do I arrest him for this? Do I simply arrange another trip to detox with the knowledge that he’ll be out stealing more beer before the end of the day?  What do I tell the convenience store clerk who keeps watching his beer walk out of the store? I’d previously referred him to the county’s in-patient sobering program, but there is a waitlist for that service, and it takes persistence and initiative from the patient, something that Mr. Hendricks had not shown thus far.

This was not the sort of gray-area scenario I expected when first considering a police career.

Popular culture shows officers tracking down the most heinous of criminals, cleverly catching them in the act or eliciting a full confession afterward, followed by the satisfying and finalizing click of handcuffs being applied.  A clear bad guy caught and put away where no more harm can be done.  Case closed.

Such was certainly my image of policing back in high school, when my parents say I first spoke of becoming a cop. Growing up in a medium-sized town in Indiana, I wasn’t exposed to much of society’s ills. I played soccer and had a paper route. I was a Boy Scout, for goodness sake. I wouldn’t describe our family as rich, but we were never lacking, and my parents are together to this day.  The couple of times I saw my parents drink alcohol in 18 years were wine at dinner parties.

My innocent upbringing continued at an idyllic, liberal-arts college in rural Minnesota, where I studied nitty-gritty, practical stuff like political philosophy and Japanese. After graduation I needed to explore a little, and went to Japan where I worked as an English teacher in public schools.  It was during these four years in Japan, followed by a year of backpacking and motorcycling in Asia and Europe that I got a taste for other ways of living, including exposure to real poverty.

It wasn’t until becoming an officer in 2002, however, that I started to learn about the challenges facing my own culture. As someone usually called at last resort to patch society’s breakdowns, I began a lengthy course of study in what ails us.  And while still not an expert on any of them, I’ve learned a lot about poverty, addiction, violence, politics, homelessness, race, bureaucracy, mental illness, social services, the law, the media, the police.

I’ve also learned that each individual person I’m called to, or stumble across, is usually receiving my services because of a lengthy string of failures, personal and/or societal, that occurred way before I entered the story. I try my best to make a sound decision while surrounded by this miasma of gray, but being human, certainly I sometimes add to this string.

It turns out that Mr. Hendricks could have been even more succinct.

“It’s complicated,” would have said it all.

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Strike a pose, Portland! It’s the season to see and be seen, whether you’re sipping Moroccan tea or an exotic brew, feet in the air or buried in the grass. The weekend is about to begin, so start it off right with a brand new Street Roots. Here’s what to expect.

Yoga time: Practice gives women a new peace, and a new view on life from behind bars. Amanda Waldroupe visits the Living Yoga class at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility to learn how the centuries-old discipline is helping women find balance.

Kings and Queens of Pioneer Square: Tony Schick takes us inside the world of the chess community at Pioneer Courthouse Square, where people fill the faux pillars with nonstop games.

Homelessness, by the book: The Western Regional Advocacy Project has released it’s latest edition of “Without Housing,” which will outlines three decades of homeless-creating policies and what we can all do to change it.

The Other Side: Photographer Stephen Kerpen gives us a peak at his exhibit on the lives of Palestinians and Bedouins living in the Occupied Territories.

A little food and sympathy: Farmers markets help Oregon Trail Card holders stretch their dollars on local produce.

Plus, commentaries from Art Garcia and Ruth Kovacs, and the poetry of Leo Rhodes, part of a special rededication ceremony for the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Plus, a shockingly positive editorial to boot! Your vendor has it all within reach for the always-low price of $1.

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

On fear and transitioning out of the concrete jungle

By Julie McCurdy

You know, I think the thing that all of us have in common is fear — a thousand unruly forms of it. Wherever we are, there is fear to be faced.

Becoming unhoused turned me feral. That is a fact I live with every single day on the long road back to self sufficiency.

You’re so not gonna believe this (wry grin) but part of the trouble with trying to re-mainstream back into “normal society” is the shame of having become unhoused in the first place. I can only speak for myself in this, but that whole “what-if-they-find-out-I-have-been-unhoused?” comes into my thoughts these days. Because I see the way the expression on peoples faces change when they know. We go from vital, wonderful conversations filled with possibility to stutters and stammers and murmered apologies. Continue reading

Commentary: The bad habits have to go

By Heather Lyons
Contributing Writer

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at spreadsheets lately. These spreadsheets attempt to quantify programmatic need and calculate the resources necessary to develop permanent supportive housing. Many communities, from Los Angeles to Omaha have found this to be a valuable tool.  It provides a roadmap to determine an approach to creating supportive and affordable housing initiatives from a policy and funder perspective. I like working on them, because they are puzzles. We can deal with over a half dozen data sources in some cases, and we usually have to consider more than 20 complicated federal, state and local funding resources.

As I work on one particular worksheet, I have to do what we call “making assumptions.”  Because we don’t always have clear data, sometimes we need to modify a number or percentage in order to account for differences in data sources, and then we need to justify it.  Here’s an example I just typed to explain a percentage in one spreadsheet, “includes med-high acuity adult (adjusted for long-term homelessness).”

Well, what the hell does that mean?  Perhaps the better question is who does that mean.

After the tragedy of Jack “Jackie” Collins, a homeless man who died at Hoyt Arboretum here in Portland, I’m reminded of the vast inequities that people of little or no means and who suffer from untreated mental illness or addictions face. I’m not going to discuss the Portland Police Bureau’s response to the situation. There is enough out there about that. Plus, while difficult in some ways, it’s easy, because it’s a narrow point of view. What is more difficult is creating solutions for people like Mr. Collins. people who may be a “high-med acuity adult (adjusted for long-term homelessness).”

While a lot remains to be known about Mr. Collins as a person, it’s probably safe to assume that he was not healthy, definitely homeless, and may have spent some time in and out of jail and hospitals. Continue reading

Downtown voluntary alcohol ban extended one month

By Amanda Waldroupe
Staff Writer

The City’s efforts to create an alcohol impact zone limiting the types of beers small grocery stores could sell in an effort to decrease the amount of public drinking in downtown Portland has hit another snag.

The deadline for the voluntary agreement grocery stores have been urged to sign has been extended to May 15. The original deadline was March 12, and the initiative, called Vibrant PDX, was expected to begin on April 1.

The geographic area of the zone has also changed. The original impact zone’s boundaries included all grocery stories east and north of I-405, south of Lovejoy Avenue, and west of the Willamette River. 67 grocery stores within those limits were originally asked to sign the agreement. Continue reading

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The latest edition of Street Roots is hitting the pavement Friday morning, hopefully with some sunshing reflecting off the page. Here’s what you’ll find inside:

Casey Neill’s Pacific trail: Israel Bayer profiles the Portland musician’s journey as a musician and poet.

Left of Center: Cassandra Koslen goes to the range for a look at the American Gun Culture Report and its less-than-conventional firearm enthusiasts.

Candidate questionaire! That’s right! We know you can’t get enough of elections, voting and candidate platitudes, so we joined the fray and surveyed your candidates for City Council. The pages are just packed with their answers.

Plus reports on the latest developments with the downtown alcohol ban, a touching profile of one of our cool vendors, and commentaries and opinions from writers and readers, all personally delivered by your local Street Roots vendor. Thanks!

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Sun? Check. Shorts? Check. Street Roots? It’s on the way! In a few hours, vendors will be unloading a truckload of the latest edition of Street Roots, and by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning you’ll be able to get yours too.

Here’s what’s rolling your way:

This is war too: We lead the paper with a commentary on the ongoing, and often forgotten, siege of Gaza, where 1.5 million people are being held as political prisoners in their own city. Check out our editorial on the subject, with more information about the rally and teach-in set this weekend on the anniversary of the Iraq war.

Proposed alcohol ban opens larger debate on street drinking: The city thinks banning certain types of alcohol from grocery stores will stop ‘street drinking.’ But some say otherwise. Amanda Waldroupe reports.

On the front lines: Amanda interviews Dr. Jim O’Connell, the spearhead behind the Vulnerability Index, on his work as a street doctor in Boston. It’s a progressive way of looking at how we treat – and understand – health problems on the street.

Local day laborers shine in ‘Jornaleros’: Film spotlights artistic work of day laborers to illustrate their struggle to survive and their battle for change and civil rights. Noah Teicher reports.

Growing up undocumented: A group of undocumented teen-agers in Chicago – brought to the United States by their parents as youths, talk about their life in limbo and the new organization they formed to raise awareness of their rights.

Plus, commentaries from Julie McCurdy, Ruth Kovacs, Art Garcia and the folks with the People’s Planet. All engaging reads while you’re slurping down the first iced coffee of the season. Grab one today, thanks to your neighborhood vendor!