On the eve of the Portland City Council vote to increase spending for homeless and police services, community activists continue to make their voices heard. Some of the proposals on the Wednesday, Nov. 17, agenda would spend tens of millions of surplus dollars to address public safety and homelessness.
Over the past year, many residents in Portland have expressed their frustration that city leaders haven't acted quickly enough on these issues. The Portland branch of the NAACP has come out against spending any additional funds on the Portland Police Bureau, however.
Cultural institutions, like Lan Su Chinese Gardens in Old Town/Chinatown, said they're hopeful about this budget process.
Executive Director Elizabeth Nye has been outspoken about how dire the situation is in Old Town. She said they hired armed security for the first time ever because of break-ins and threats to their staff. Now, she said, they've had to increase that security in the past month.
Nye is relieved to see the city potentially prioritizing these issues. But she said if the budget increases are passed, it will still come down to getting those resources deployed on the streets as fast as possible.
"I think at the end of the day, that's going to come down to leadership, leadership, leadership. The will to make it happen. And I'd like to see all of them step up to this opportunity," Nye told KOIN 6 News. "I think whoever you're talking to will give lots of different reasons why it hasn't happened sooner. But the reality is, people are suffering on the streets now."
Nye wanted to make it clear she's not just concerned about the safety of her staff and visitors. She's also worried about the safety of the people living on the streets.
Meanwhile, the NAACP Portland Branch released a statement on Nov. 16 demanding that none of the surplus be spend on the police.
"With the uptick in community violence, we are seeing an all-too-familiar, well-funded push for more police as a cornerstone to solving our city's problems. The violence occurring in the city hits our NAACP family especially close to home, daily. We know that community-centered solutions will always trump police on safety and the research supports our stance," the statement said.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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