There’s been a wave of press this month on aggressive behavior by panhandlers and canvassers on Portland’s sidewalks, mostly due to the fallout from the sit-lie ordinance being struck down by the local courts.
None of that coverage has included Street Roots vendors.
At Street Roots, we train individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty to sell the newspaper and be polite – treating people like they expect to be treated. And the rhetoric about the problems on the streets have not gone unnoticed among the team. Here is an e-mail one of our vendors sent today to Commissioner Randy Leonard, who has included “magazine” sellers among those to be treated equally in the city’s next approach to the streets:
I read the article in today’s Willamette Week on your proposal to regulate panhandlers. Like you, and many others, the more aggressive panhandlers – particularly more able-bodied ones who hold cardboard signs when they could be working to make a decent living for themselves – can be a thorn in the backside. While I applaud this, I am concerned about the canvassers and other vendors.
I am a vendor for Street Roots, which I’m sure you’re familiar with. As the director, Israel Bayer, himself would state, selling Street Roots is a more acceptable alternative to panhandling. The majority of us- 99.99% of us – are courteous, friendly, and do what we can to build community and contribute to the betterment of society. My concern is this regulation could wrongfully target those who are behaving themselves as they canvass for charities and/or selling SR. What I basically ask for is assurance that you only target those who are overtly aggressive and belligerent.
In closing, I want to thank you for your service to the city, and thank you for listening.
In kindest regards, I remain,
Darren W. Alexander
Commissioner Leonard’s response:
I agree with you, Darren. I have had nothing but positive experiences with Streets Roots vendors.
Thanks for writing….Randy
Which leaves a lot flapping in the wind on how folks like Darren will experience the next generation of street ordinances.
So we want to know: What’s your experience with Street Roots vendors been lately?