Tag Archives: Portland

Dear City Council: A prescription for healthy streets

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

I write this letter to the Portland City Council as it seats two new members: Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick. As you sit down over the next few months building new relationships, making new appointments, swapping bureaus and considering new directions. I offer this prescription for healthy streets:

Our streets have the potential to transform our communities. Trans-portation policies of the past too often divided communities, particularly those most underserved. Instead, be inspired by the potential offered by building livable communities that are vibrant, active and economically sustainable for everyone. Continue reading

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

Mayor Sam Adams reflects on his time at City Hall and Portland’s future

by Israel Bayer, Staff Writer

Mayor Sam Adams has spent the majority of his life serving the City of Portland. Love him or not, Adams has helped build a foundation for Portland that will last well into the future. Street Roots recently sat down with Mayor Sam Adams for an in-depth, hour-long discussion about his leadership style, technology, poverty, cycling, the police and the future of the city we love.

Israel Bayer: What more are you working on through the end of your term?

Sam Adams: There is a lot. What probably is less known to most folks is that a lot of the projects that my team and I work on take years to come to fruition. Between now and the end of the year there is a lot on the docket because there has been a lot in the hopper for the past three or four years. This includes everything from coming up with a good, solid, meaningful plan to improve the Portland Police Bureau with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division findings, to getting council approval to make it exponentially cheaper for folks who live on gravel or dirt roads in the city to be able to pave their streets. Those are two bookends, but they are big issues, and there is a lot in between.

I.B.: Portland continues to reinvent itself. Where do you see Portland in the next 50-years?

S.A.: We’ve had a chance to put our fingerprints on the next 25 years with the Portland Plan. Portland has to become more prosperous. The strength of our economy does not match, for example, our quality of life. We have to become a more successful and stronger economy. Continue reading

From Land Ho to Right 2 Dream Too, a look back from one year on

By Leo Rhodes

Checking my e-mails and working on some of my project in the Street Roots office, I was interrupted by an excited vendor. He asked if I had seen an article in The Portland Tribune.

His eyes lit up as he explained that a man wanted to start a tent city, and that I should read the article. I told him I would. The next day the same guy asked if I read the article. “I forgot all about it,” I told him. Then I told him, “I’ll read it tonight after I finish all my work.” This went on a few more times. I kept forgetting to read the article. He finally brought in the article and placed it in front of me and said, “Here read it.” So I read it. Then he said, “See, he wants to start a tent city.” I looked at him and said, “Not really. He just wants to work with the homeless to use his land. He replied, “To start a tent city. You should jump on this before someone else does.” Continue reading

Right 2 Dream Too to sign new lease, threatens suit against city

Staff reports

Oct. 10 will be the one-year anniversary of Right 2 Dream Too, and members of the homeless rest stop are celebrating by signing a second one-year lease with the property owners.

They’re also firming up their expectations of City Hall to suspend its fine process and declare R2DToo’s site at Fourth Avenue and Burnside a legal transitional housing campground area as allowed under state law.

In a letter to the city dated Aug. 31, R2DToo’s attorney, Mark Kramer, says that if the city refuses to suspend monthly fine assessments against the nonprofit, he will seek a judge’s decision to void the regulatory process in this case. The letter was addressed to City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, head of the Bureau of Development Services that overseas the regulatory process, and Commissioner Nick Fish, who heads up the city’s homeless and housing programs. Continue reading

Housing veterans, local numbers fall short

By Robert Britt, Staff Writer

When Army veteran Mark Townsend left the military service in the early ’70s, a decades-long battle with substance abuse and homelessness was just beginning.

Addiction marred Townsend’s transition to civilian life and reduced him to living what he calls a “life of drinking and using.” That life led to legal troubles, mental health issues and a lack of stable housing.

Townsend, now 54, says he repeatedly tried to get help. “I’ve been in and out of the VA several times, trying to get clean and sober, and couldn’t.”

Last August, he entered a residential substance abuse treatment program and was soon told of a federal program that could get him into subsidized housing while providing counseling and treatment for his addiction.

The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (VASH) is a two-pronged approach to reduce homelessness among veterans. It couples government-subsidized rental vouchers from local, public housing authorities with case-managed assistance and clinical care provided by VA medical centers. When created, the program tasked a VA system already strained from the rising number of returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — with the new responsibility of managing a supportive housing program. Continue reading

Vendor column: Finding a caring community keeps this vendor standing tall

By Marlon Crump, Contributing Writer

“Community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.”
— Howard Thurman,
American Theologian, clergyman and activist

We all somehow relate to life despite day-to-day activities or hardship.  Be it a mother, a father, single parent, children, passerby, private citizen, prominent figure, public official, a hardworking employee, etc., and anyone in any form of struggle.

Eight months ago, I arrived here from San Francisco, Calif., with a goal and a priority: Peace of mind. Circumstances surrounding my work within the community became too chaotic to withstand any longer. My greatest regret upon my retreat was leaving a very wonderful community of comrades who have more than made a positive difference in my life.

For the sake of my soul and sanity, I moved on to wholeheartedly heal from a darkness that was spearing my spirit.

“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today,” goes the Cherokee proverb.
Almost immediately upon my arrival in August last year, I made a startling discovery of love and support from caring communities through Street Roots. As one of its street vendors who sell its paper on a daily basis, I’ve been extremely blessed to venture out into the community and meeting supportive people who’ve embraced me as part of their own.

“Collectively, we can begin to build towards real community change.” Israel Bayer, director of Street Roots explains of the relationship it has with the community. “From a newspaper perspective we are changing the way people think about poverty and contributing to a larger conversation about solutions and hope.”

The communities of Mississippi/Shaver, and employees in the Standard Insurance Building, located on Southwest Fourth Avenue and Taylor Street have become a major lifeline of ongoing support for me. Everyone from all walks of life who smiles genuinely in my direction showing respect equally earns mine, in gratitude. Even to those who quickly look away from me for whatever reason, positive personalities parallel someone in need.

Supporters at times do U-turns after seeing and sensing a positive aura to make a donation, or share words of wisdom. Typically, I’m a human statue with a stance of a symbolic smile, exchanging its genuine energy to everyone who needs it, while holding a stack of Street Roots.

One of the primary perceptions people have of me surrounding ambition and success is in the pride in my appearance — in properly suited attire. Consistent compliments I receive ignite an energetic friendly feeling within me of appreciation for acceptance.

My darkest days are never lifted with a frown, as they stay smothered in my smile. Love is confirmed when people ask me how my day is going: whether the weather chooses to shine or shun us makes no difference, being our own breakfast and easing away any difficult or weary day, exchanging how we relate in some way shape or form through brief and lengthy conversations.
And at the same time, informing every single supporter of the content in the latest edition.

“I have been a reader and supporter of Street Roots for a number of years.” says Mary Anne Joyce, an employee of the Standard Insurance Building. “I read it because the journalism is great, and I read stories I would not read anywhere else.” Joyce interacts with other Street Roots vendors and me in general.
“I especially like Marlon Crump who sells the paper at the building in which I work. He and I are from Cleveland, Ohio, which means we are friendly, and difficult to discourage.”

Another supporter, Mary Hull, also an employee at the Standard Insurance Building, shares Joyce’s similar sentiments. “I like Street Roots because it addresses topics that really matters (or should matter) to people who live or work in this city. There’s nothing shallow in it, no ‘fluff.’ And it tries hard to give everyone a voice.”

Real wealth in spirit is a welcoming community, a true legitimate level of love for everyone to hopefully reach at some point.

Marlon Crump is a Street Roots vendor who sells in downtown Portland near Southwest Fourth Avenue and Taylor Street.

Editorial: A message from the trenches to state reps on budget cuts

The new state budget punches a hole in the safety nets for the most vulnerable Oregonians. Street Roots breaks down a sampling of the programs being hit hardest, including support for the disabled, mentally ill and unemployed in the new edition of the paper. An important read. Below is the Street Roots editorial in the current July 9 edition of the newspaper talking about the cuts.

Oregon is faced with a $577 million hole in its General Fund through July, 2011, a hole that’s expected to grow to $2.5 billion by next year. The situation prompted one nonprofit leader to describe this year’s budget cuts as a massive wave that retreats from land, followed by a tidal wave that may completely submerge Oregon’s safety network the following year.

SR has outlined the possibly devastating cuts to human services across the state in this edition. Others paying the price include our public schools and environmental programs. All of the cuts combined will mean thousands of Oregonians living in desperation.

Desperation equals tragedy. That includes begging, borrowing and/or stealing to keep mouths fed and shelter over one’s family and friends.
The cuts to the human safety net and our schools is not only maddening, but it’s a reflection of the broken system of government that has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up puppet governments and fight wars around the world in the name of democracy. Meanwhile, back at home, our democracy is crippled by lackluster politicians and party politics, corporate greed and a Congress more concerned with squashing opposing ideologies in Iran or Turkey than truly improving Americans’ quality of life — or at least reversing its tailspin. Have we learned anything from history? Not in the least. Pathetic.

Oregon needs to hold a special session to allocate dollars from agencies not affected by the budget cuts to those in need, and to create alternative revenue streams to buffer against the coming tidal wave. That means putting dollars into schools and the human services.

Rumors have it that Democrats don’t want to rush to a special session because Republicans could hijack the process and allow for more dollars to be diverted toward corrections and public safety. Possibly. But considering we’re already kissing the ground per se, it’s time both Democrats and Republicans show some backbone and stop playing politics. Yes, it’s an election year. Yes, it’s a hard fight. Yes, things are going to get worse. But you know what? You’re our leaders, and we’re expecting you to lead. Today. Right now.

SR spent a significant amount of time with our small staff to sift through the cuts and present them to readers. As we called human service workers, non-profit leaders, budget analysts and others to get the scoop, we couldn’t help but find ourselves explicitly blurting out inevitabilities such as suicide, homicide, prison, homelessness, death, depression, etc. We found ourselves joking about something that isn’t funny at all. In fact, it’s deadly serious and makes you sick to your stomach to think about. We were coping with the fact that not only have we covered — and lived — the stark realities in the trenches for years, but we knew that with each statistic it was another individual or family that was going to have to survive in a world with no logic, a growing discrimination against them and little resources to fight for themselves. Most of these stories won’t come with a happy ending, or a day of remembrance, or even a flag draped over their coffin. But they are casualties just the same.

So we ask our statewide representatives that find themselves in these extraordinary times to lead. That’s what we elected you to do.

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

Q4 & 5: Homelessness and small business

Continue reading

Street Roots editorial: We’re losing ground, time to charge

Street Roots editorial from the August 7, edition

In Portland the housing options for the poorest in our town has declined by 23 percent, while the same options for the more affluent gained nearly 12 percent. Statewide we have the dubious distinction of being, per capita, No. 1 in the nation for homelessness, No. 2 in unemployment, and No. 3 in hunger. As the largest metropolitan area in Oregon, Portland has a responsibility to push beyond and say this is not acceptable. Continue reading