For nearly a year, Street Roots has been advocating for a more centralized location for homeless campers who have their possessions confiscated during camp sweeps.
A recent article in the Portland Mercury outlines just how ridiculous the entire situation has actually become. Not only is the facility located in outer Southwest, away from the city’s core, but until the Mercury’s reporting, it didn’t even have an address on the odd-looking facility tucked away off of Southwest Barbur Boulevard.
There’s not even a pretext of trying to facilitate the items return.
Street Roots recommends creating a kind of one-stop shop that would allow people experiencing homeless to store their gear (personal belongings, shopping carts, sleeping bags) in one centralized location. This location could serve as an access point for people on the streets and social-service providers to connect to services. It would also solve the problem of not having a location to provide people who have had their belongings confiscated.
If the goal is to get people off the streets and accessing services and housing, then creating practical resources for people’s belongings is part of the solution.
Likewise, the city and anti-poverty advocates, including Street Roots, need to work to bridge the gap between the environmental impact people on the streets have with neighborhoods and in our natural areas. We believe that together we can find a way to be better stewards of the land and to deter littering. That can’t happen without some creative thinking and coordinated efforts to address about these issues in a new way.
It’s a slap in the face for people experiencing poverty — people without resources — to have to travel to outer Southwest to recover their belongings. It makes it extremely difficult to build trust and long-lasting relationships.
The city has done a great job with finding a breakthrough formula to deal with public spaces downtown and on sidewalks. There’s no reason to think we can’t do something great when it comes to camp sweeps. We have to move beyond creating a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Moving people from park to park and neighborhood to neighborhood doesn’t solve homelessness. More targeted harm reduction camping policies will result in better outcomes.