I may have already mentioned that the Portland area has gotten noticeably worse, regarding the homeless situation and graffiti, since before I left it several months ago.
From a recent KATU article:
With current hurdles including growing homeless camps, record high gun violence, and challenges with sanitation, KATU’s Angelica Thornton asked Wheeler how he would respond to those who say Portland’s city leadership is not solving the problems at hand.
“We are making progress, but I understand from the public’s perspective while it, why it feels so dislocating, Portland is a beautiful city. Portland is a city that functions well, that over the last two years it’s been stress tested. And frankly, a lot of the services that we provide have not been up to par during this pandemic,” Wheeler said.
No Mayor Wheeler, you’re not “making progress” at all. Here are some shots I took of a homeless camp not far from the airport:
I’ve also seen RVs parked on the sides of roads, near fields, and with (apparently) fully functional cars and even motorcycles. In other words, the city seems to have abandoned any serious efforts to enforce codes.
As these shanty towns grow, and these settlements become ever more established, several questions come to mind:
- How will we address the increased fire hazard, and who will be held accountable when the inevitable deaths occur due to fires?
- How will we protect ourselves from outbreaks of communicable, and pathogen-borne, disease as they spread from these unsanitary settlements?
- After people have lived in these structures for so many years, will they gain official status as squatters? What legal challenges will arise when the city finally decides to demolish these homes after a decade or more?
- How will the public be protected from dangerous fumes that might emanate from these settlements? If they’re cooking meth in them, we could all be in danger.
How bad is the homeless problem in Portland right now? I recently met a young woman who felt it necessary to order a ride-share for a three-block journey in downtown Portland in the middle of the day. She was too afraid to walk because she’d been harassed in the past. That’s right. People are afraid to walk three blocks in downtown Portland in the middle of the day.
What about at night? I did find myself driving through a section of downtown Portland a couple of nights ago. It was only about 8:30. Night had barely fallen – and yet I had to swerve, several times, to avoid hitting psychotics milling about in the middle of the main street. Dressed in rags, and ranting to their personal demons, the scene looked like it was lifted out of a post-apocalyptic zombie movie.
This is what the collapse of a civilization looks like.