A press release from Jim Middaugh's campaign. Look for more coverage of the homeless protests in the up and coming Street Roots.
PORTLAND – City Council candidate Jim Middaugh today called on Portland leaders to consider changes in the enforcement of the city’s anti-camping ordinance until the City Council and other leaders in affordable housing identify or build 1,000 new housing units to get people off the streets.
Protesters are sleeping outside of City Hall in response to police sweeps of camping sites and the lack of affordable housing. The city currently is considering more studies and short-term extensions on homeless shelter operations in response. “Studies and short term shelters may be important, but they are nothing more than Band Aids. We don’t need mats on the floor, we need keys in the door,” Middaugh said. “We need bold leadership to revamp our local housing programs to ensure they prioritize investments in those most in need. Until housing is available we may need to rethink enforcement of our anti-camping ordinance,” he said.
Based on a legal challenge, Los Angeles agreed in 2007 to reduce homeless sweeps until the city and its partners built 1,250 units of new housing. “Sweeps in other cities have been challenged in court. It’s only a matter of time before they are challenged in Portland. Providing more housing is the best way to get people off the street and to avoid costly litigation,” Middaugh said.
Middaugh called on the Portland Development Commission, the Bureau of Housing and Community Development, Multnomah County, the Housing Authority of Portland and the development and homeless provider community to find or create 1,000 new units of housing for the homeless during the next five years.
“City Hall should state unequivocally that it will work with its partners to find or create 1,000 new units of housing by committing the PDC’s TIF set-aside, public housing money and new housing money to a reorganized housing system focused on getting people off the streets,” Middaugh said. “Until there is an adequate number of homes for people who currently are forced to camp – including in front of City Hall – there will continue to be a problem. Any proposed reorganization of housing programs should focus first and foremost on getting people off the street,” he said.
The PDC, HAP and others recently have called for a consolidation of housing programs. The City’s Bureau of Housing and Community Development is working now to develop alternative ways to organize the region’s housing providers. “Any reorganization should not dilute our successful efforts to implement the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness,” Middaugh said.
“Mayor Potter’s response to the protest is insufficient. We don’t need to study the Section 8 Voucher problem we need to act on it. We need more outreach workers to help the people with vouchers find apartments and to give landlords someone to call when they need help dealing with difficult situations,” Middaugh said. “More importantly, the Council needs to set some very clear and bold affordable housing goals and to commit to meeting them. We need to respond directly to the needs of the people sleeping outside City Hall by focusing on finding or creating more housing,” Middaugh said.
“We need a bold plan if we are to continue to make progress they way we did under Commissioner Erik Sten. If our response is simply to lay more mats on shelter floors and to ‘explore’ use of vouchers, we won’t address the fundamental needs facing our community,” Middaugh said. “It’s unfair to use our police to move people along when they have no place to go. We need action,” he said.