At its January 14th, 2021 meeting the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association voted to endorse our own District 42 State Representative Rob Nosse’s call to City and County leaders to use emergency funding and powers to immediately site additional sanctioned camping areas throughout SE Portland and the city as a whole. Working directly with SEUL Executive Director Leroy Eadie, the following draft letter has been distributed to all of the Neighborhood Associations in the hope of SE Uplift voting to formally endorse it as soon as protocols allow.
SUBJECT: Emergency Sanctioned Sites for Camping
Dear County Chair Deborah Kafoury and City Commissioner Dan Ryan:
Thank you for reading this letter. I am going to get right to my point. Not a week goes by that I do not hear from some part of my district about the problems with homeless/houseless people camping and/or the fallout that occurs from the “sweeps” that in policy are on hold, but in reality continue to happen.
While this is not directly a “state issue” I am not willing to accept that dodge. My constituents and yours are crying for leadership on this topic. From some I hear that the urban camping response model currently being deployed by the City and County creates traumatic and life-threatening instability for our houseless neighbors, preventing people from establishing a foundation from which to transition out of houselessness, while at the same time maximizing impact on housed neighbors by implicitly encouraging houseless individuals to set up residence in our highest traffic public spaces — specifically neighborhood parks and schoolyards. From others I hear that this is inhumane, but they are tired of having parks and schools and other public areas occupied and overflowing into their streets and neighborhoods by people who clearly have needs.
Despite our best efforts, we are not going to have enough affordable housing and shelter to meet the need maybe for years. The time has come for our City and our County to allow for sanctioned camping. A sanctioned site is, at its simplest, a place where people can camp that is not subject to HUCIRP sweeps. These sanctioned sites should be provided with hygiene stations and regular trash removal. Ideally these small sites are spread out all over the city, not just concentrated in large areas in only certain parts of the community. Giving people places to go that aren’t public parks, schools, and neighborhood rights-of-way ensures that these public spaces remain usable for all community members.
I know this isn’t a perfect solution, and I know there will be folks who will disagree with this approach, but the situation we have now is not working either and will worsen. I and others signed on to this letter believe some sanctioned camping with some security and safety and sanitation is a better way to go.
Will you come together to respond to me and to our constituents? I can best be reached at 971-235-9342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.