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'You got the heroin addicts, the gang members and the punk rockers are all hanging out together. You wouldn't have ever seen that.'

COURTESY PHOTO: JONATHAN LEVINSON/OPB - Mike Dusek, an unhoused person living in Portland, distributes hygiene supplies to other members of the unhoused community on March 28.Mike Dusek and Daniel Campbell, two unhoused people living in Portland, walked toward the Burnside Bridge underpass, each carrying an arm full of zip-close bags stuffed with supplies to give to other unhoused people.

"What we're doing is handing out socks, hats, hand sanitizers, information on the coronavirus," Dusek said. "Just keeping people informed on what's going on and trying to keep people safe."

As Portland residents have sheltered in place, there have been fewer extra resources available for the city's unhoused community. Less foot traffic means less spare change. Closed restaurants mean no extra food donated to soup kitchens.

"Having all these people hiding out being so scared of this…it does hinder our community," Dusek said.

But the crisis is also bringing the unhoused community together. People are moving their tents closer and sharing resources.

"I see a lot more homeless people working together," Dusek said. "You got the heroin addicts, the gang members and the punk rockers are all hanging out together. You wouldn't have ever seen that."

They're even finding opportunity and empowerment they may otherwise not have.

The supply distribution Dusek and Campbell were doing is being run out of the Street Roots headquarters. Street Roots is a newspaper in Portland that covers social justice issues. Dusek and Campbell are among 280 unhoused people who sell the newspaper to make money.

This OPB story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.


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