The April 7 Portland Tribune article on the Rite Aid homeless shelter is one for the record books. How or where you got your notion of neighbors welcoming the homeless with "arms wide open" is pure fantasy.
As a fourth-generation Arbor Lodge resident, and one who has written extensively about my North Portland community for decades, I'm here to say neither Arbor Lodge nor Kenton feels anything but betrayal and consternation about this action.
One part of your article is correct, the city and county never asks for community input regarding the placing of undesirable projects, ideas or people when opening various new dumping grounds for rehab centers, needle exchanges, drug counseling or garbage pits. In North Portland the homeless and the trash that accompanies them are simply swallowing our community and the uncertainty and terror that goes with the actions grows each month.
The names and titles of the various "experts" on homelessness in your article are too numerous to mention. It's suffice to say they all read from the same script and all sing the same tune. These people come from a collection of bureaucracies all receiving tax payer money and whom have a livelihood depending on "ending homelessness."
In reality, the reverse is happening.
It's clearly a self-serving world that allows our local government officials to announce the purchase and opening of the Rite Aid facility months after the clandestine transaction was completed. It's also dishonest to say neighbors are totally supportive of the stab-in-the-back charade.
And yes, the piece is replete with explanations and excuses outlining why it was necessary to conduct this operation in secret and how the county had no other choice.
This article is full of falsehoods. It's bad enough (although expected) for local government to lie and deceive when trying to rationalize their clumsy behavior. It becomes compounded when media outlets such as the Tribune parrot the prevarications without questioning the motives or sources.
My neighbors do not want more homeless. We have more than our share. We don't need more trash, needles, car break-ins, abandoned RVs, stolen items from our garages or naked tweakers parading in our streets. We'd like to go to the park without stepping over needles, trash and feces.
To suggest our community is excited at the prospect of degrading the neighborhood further is ludicrous on its surface. However, I'm sure that if the author did enough ad hoc "interviews" with random people in Arbor Lodge and Kenton he'd be able to find the correct number of people to say they support the new homeless facility.
Naturally, he could then discard all the other opinions.
Here's my idea for a follow-up article on the subject. The introduction would be something like this: "The Arbor Lodge community is ecstatic about the prospect of the county moving more homeless into their neighborhood. The idea of mountains of trash such as we see in Delta Park, Interstate 5, 33rd Avenue and Lombard street growing larger in the area is comforting and inviting. And, to think, the county was able to accomplish this with only $2.65 million in tax dollars is amazing (Naturally, operating expenses will be ongoing and at this point are unknown).
"The neighbors here in North Portland feel privileged to be the recipients of such magnanimous county actions. Their only regret and sorrow comes when they learn that other parts of Portland, such as Southwest, don't get to share in the ambiance and honor afforded to our community. It just isn't fair."
Jim Speirs is a long-time Arbor Lodge resident.
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