Tag Archives: Multnomah County

‘Domicile unknown’

By Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

Laurie Crow would have been 54 on Dec. 27, 2011.

Instead, she became one of 47.

Only a few weeks before her birthday, she died curled up in her sleeping bag in a meadow near Going Street. Her partner, Clarence, was next to her, awake and listening as she slept through daybreak.

What he was hearing, in fact, was her body cooling in the December chill. It was Dec. 7.

The other 46 were also homeless, and all died on the streets of Portland in 2011.

Fourty-seven: Nearly 1 a week. Continue reading

Street Roots, Multnomah County release homeless deaths report

This morning, Multnomah County released a new report, co-authored by Street Roots on the number of homeless people who died on the streets last year. The county medical examiner’s office counted 47 men and women died literally on the streets in 2011, and that counts only those who fall within it jurisdiction. The Multnomah County Health Department considers it a subset of people who die homeless, and doesn’t count people who were under medical care at the time of their death, for example.

“This is not what a strong, healthy community looks like,” Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury told reporters at a press conference in the county offices this morning. Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer and City Commissioner Nick Fish also spoke on the report. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

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!


A talk with Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen on what’s wrong, what’s right, and what could be

By Israel Bayer, Staff Writer

From “Shakedown Street” at Grateful Dead shows to creating the first certified organic bakery in Portland with the Portland Pretzel Company, Jeff Cogen approaches life with a different perspective, and that includes his leadership of the most dynamic county in Oregon.

Today, Cogen is leading by example and has taken on progressive projects at the county including food production, fighting for people experiencing homelessness and poverty, and even taking on the chemical industry.

Street Roots recently sat down with Cogen to talk about politics, his ambitions and issues facing the people of Multnomah County.

Israel Bayer: We hear so much about the dysfunction of government and wasteful spending. Can you talk a little bit about how the county has to overcome this kind of thinking and give some examples of how local governments are working together to improve the region’s quality of life?

Jeff Cogen: The leadership of Multnomah County works really well together right now. Our challenge is letting people know we are working for them, and trying to behave in a way that people can see we are taking actions in a way that builds people’s confidence — especially in this country where we have to rebuild peoples faith in government — because there has frankly been a very organized right-wing campaign to make government the enemy.

Really what government is, is people coming together to take care of their collective needs. I think it’s so important that we get people buying into and understanding that we have it in our capacity, in our own community and as a country, to solve our problems.

I.B.: A lot of average people, the same people on the Barack Obama train three, four years ago, are starting to fall like flies and become disillusioned. How does the average Portlander play a role in moving a conversation forward that government is not bad?

J.C.: That’s a great question, and I don’t have magic answers for this. For me personally, I try to focus on what we are doing locally. I have been really saddened that President Obama’s heartfelt integrity to work with people has been met with very effective cynical attacks.

Regardless of how the president has responded to these negative attacks, I feel like what we have going on in Portland and Multnomah County is reason to believe that, “Yes, we can.” It’s more tangible. And for me I can wrap my hands and head around what’s happening locally, and believe that the decisions we make mean that local government matters. In some ways the most powerful thing we can do is to show the nation a model of government making a difference, government doing positive things, government helping solve our problems. And that’s why I get really fired up to do the work locally. Continue reading

Speak your mind on County Motor Vehicle Rental Tax

Tomorrow morning is the first hearing for a proposed Multnomah County rental car tax increase. The extra revenue raised by the tax could help patch the $42 million county budget shortfall and potentially save some of the human services that are now at the mercy of the state budget.

An editorial in the current issue of Street Roots supports the tax increase:

The tax will face stiff resistance from the tourism industry, but the reality is that without a sales tax, the rental car tax is one of the only sources of revenue we can create from individuals and families who visit our great city. The increase from 12 to 17 percent still doesn’t put Portland in the top 10 around the country for the amount charged to visitors accessing rental cars. It’s not a greedy grab by the county, but instead, a smart investment into a sustainable revenue stream for our community.

County Commissioners won’t vote on the rental car tax tomorrow, but they will hear public testimony on it and other budget issues. To testify, be there at 9 a.m., sign up with a yellow form at the door and give it to clerk Deb Bogstad.

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Meeting is Thursday, May 7, 9 a.m. at the Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd, First Floor Commissioners Boardroom.

Multnomah County Forum to Save Our Human Services


Multnomah County Health Department warns of fatal heroin overdoses

From the County Health Department.

A handful of overdose deaths in the last few weeks, along with a steady rise in heroin-related deaths over the past year, have raised concerns among county health officials.  State heroin overdoses are up 32% from last year, increasing from 89 deaths to 118 deaths. Sixty-six of the 118 deaths were in Multnomah County.

“Heroin overdoses occur in cycles.  According to data recently released by the Oregon Medical Examiner, we are on an upswing in several Oregon counties,” says Multnomah County Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Oxman.

Overdoses pose a threat to the lives and health of opiate users and are preventable.  There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of an overdose, including: Drug strength – heroin can vary in purity. At this time it appears the heroin sold in Multnomah County is quite pure, and therefore potentially stronger.

– Combining drugs (heroin with fentanyl, methadone, morphine, or benzodiazepines, etc.). Using after a period of abstinence (including after time spent in jail, drug treatment, or voluntary abstinence, even after a short period of time).

– Using drugs alone, resulting in no one being around to help the overdose victim (this happens often when a person relapses and feels shame about relapsing).

– Experiencing a period of depression or suicidal thoughts.

Continue reading