Monday, May 5, 2008

Street Roots letter to Mayor and Commissioners

May 5, 2008

Dear Mayor and City Commissioners,

The Bureau of Housing and Community Development has widely reported a massive reduction in people experiencing homelessness since the inception of the 10-year plan to end homelessness in December of 2004.

The 10-year plan to end homelessness in Portland and Multnomah County outlines nine action steps that will eliminate homelessness in our city by 2015. Those steps include:

- Move people into housing
- Stop discharging people into homelessness
- Improve outreach to homeless people
- Emphasize permanent solutions
- Increase supply of permanent supportive housing
- Create innovative new partnerships to end homelessness
- Make the rent assistance system more effective
- Increase economic opportunity for homeless people
- Implement new data collection technology throughout the homeless system

We ask that City Hall suspend the camping ordinance in designated regions of the City of Portland until all nine-action steps have been implemented, and the 10-year plan to end homelessness is complete.

Street Roots believes it is cruel and unusual punishment to continue to criminalize individuals experiencing homelessness from sleeping on public property when the City of Portland can’t offer any real, concrete solutions to the crisis until a projected 2015.

We recognize the difficulties law enforcement encounter due to circumstances beyond their control - individuals sleeping in regions of the city that include up and coming festivals, markets, etc.

But without offering any research, or fact-based data that sweeping individuals from one location to another without offering real time solutions help individuals end their homelessness – the city is essentially moving away from the core philosophies of the 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Denying individuals the right to sleep and constantly asking individuals to move from public sidewalks and public parks elevates the level of anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation and ultimately trauma to peoples lives forced to sleep outdoors.

Continued enforcement of the cities camping ordinance creates an atmosphere of distrust with outreach workers, non-profits, law enforcement and individuals on the streets – ultimately working against the idea of engaging individuals on the streets to work towards permanent housing and housing first.

Thank you for your consideration.


Israel Bayer
Street Roots
211 NW Davis
Portland, Oregon 97209

No comments: