No Hope for the Homeless, Sleeping on the Sidewalk in Portland

Protesters chanting “emergency,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “restore local control” staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the doors to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office in February before walking the halls of the House chamber, banging on walls and doors with their hands and shoes, demanding legislative remedies for what they see as a statewide housing crisis.

Homelessness is so rampant in Portland that Mayor Charlie Hales in early February put forth a plan to regulate what he euphemistically referred to as “camping” on city streets.

Thanks to Mayor Hales, people without a roof over their heads can now use a tarp for protection from the elements and are permitted to spend the night in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk. Or, if they are fortunate enough to own a tent, they can spend the night in any of 10 city-sanctioned campsites.

There is no doubt Portland has earned a reputation as one of the country’s most desirable cities in which to live. Unfortunately, this has led to astronomical rent increases that have no government-regulated ceiling.

It cost $1,689 per month to rent the average apartment in Portland in 2015, 15 percent more than the average 2010 rent of $980. No other city in America has seen that kind of rental price increase over the last five years.

“There is a direct relationship between increasing rent costs and people experiencing homelessness, many for the first time,” Stacy Borke, director of housing services at Transition Projects, told the Guardian. “For some, they were living on a limited, fixed income that allowed them to just get by, and then their rent increased and pushed them over the edge.”