Sunday, November 03, 2013
It'll Take More Than A Skid...
-PHOTO OF SKIDMORE AREA, PORTLAND, OREGON
EARLY AUTUMN, 2004--PHOTO BY RUTH RADER-
Please check-out THIS LINK before you read the rest of this post.
I remember sitting on the sidewalk, in a line with a group of other women, against
the wall of the old Salvation Army building. It was 2004 and I had recently returned
At that time, the Harbor Light opened its doors and sheltered single, homeless women
That was when the plan to "end homelessness in Portland, Oregon in
ten years" was being hatched.
I never believed in that asinine plan then and I still don't.
Money was gathered and spent and now...ten years later...Evan Sernoffsky is writing
about the homeless problem in Portland...again.
I quietly returned to Portland, recently and took a walk around the old neighborhood.
My world, back in 2004, consisted of the area between Harbor
Light, Skidmore Fountain, (the old) Blanchet House, Union Station and the light rail tracks that run near the downtown public library.
And there was talk...that circulated through the homeless population like the Max train
on its track...that something new was going to begin to fix everything. We
were given the impression that certain people in suits and nice dresses were crafting a
permanent answer to our no-residence problem. Once and for all.
But it never happened.
Oh, money came in and money went out. But nothing really changed.
And when I slowly strolled around West Burnside Avenue, the other day, the truth
reverberated through my mind: "Everything Is The Same...The Photograph That My
Mind Took In 2004 Is Identical To The One That My Brain Is Snapping Now."
Evan Sernoffsky is now reporting that another hefty sum of money is going to come
in to the "Fix The Homeless Problem" coffers very soon. And I believe that I know where
most of that money is going to go.
It will be a repeat of 2004...a disgraceful deja vu...and in the end, nothing will really
This is because the effort to eradicate homelessness in Portland, Oregon is based on a
Homelessness in Portland is a business now and for the past ten years, the same people
have been keeping its grant-fed wheels turning.
The organization gurus, the City Poobahs and the other staffers in the provider-system
have maintained the belief that they are doing everything right. They have faithfully
perpetuated the lie that the entire problem is the fault of the homeless population. Period.
Meanwhile, the young people and the old men and the single women and the women with
children who make up the homeless population in Portland...have wavered between creating
crime and staying in their place.
They have accepted what is and isn't...and done too little pushing...content to allow them-
selves to be buried in bullshit like a ladle into a chili kettle at a local church.
No crowd at the "Sisters Of The Road Cafe" ever left Evan Sernoffsky with nothing to write
about. No wise-cracking fools, sitting at the tables in any of the buildings where the
homeless congregate, have ever worked-out a plan resolve the homeless problem in Portland,
once and for all.
No zip of a tent flap has ever brought thousands of homeless people into a residential
The pompous promises and the arrogant predictions have all fallen flat, crawled away and
disappeared. Ten years later, they have faded into the ranks of the homeless people who
still walk the streets of Portland, Oregon.
I have tried, several times, to suggest an answer. But my idea has been consistently ignored.
Now, I would like to make the suggestion...again...one more time. Perhaps this time...someone
will finally listen and consider my proposal. It won't be simple to implement it but I believe
that it might work as a catalyst that will finally begin to resolve the chronic homeless problem
I considered explaining my idea here...in detail. But I have always been the one who has made
the first move. And after ten-years...I think that it is time for those who really want the answers
to reach out to me.
I am serious.
Your move, Portland.