Portland Moves Forward With Contentious Homelessness Strategy

The city’s plan to reduce the number of unhoused people has met with criticism, particularly for a proposal to ban encampment on public property citywide.

Read Time: 2 minutes

December 7, 2022, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Portland, Oregon street

Loren Kerns / Portland, Oregon street

An article in Smart Cities Dive by Katie Pyzyk outlines next steps for Portland, Oregon’s controversial new plan to address homelessness in the city and reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness on its streets.

After following Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to allow unhoused people to remain in place during the pandemic, Portland, like other cities, is taking more aggressive steps to remove unsheltered people from the street. In August, Mayor Ted Wheeler banned encampments near schools, and later proposed five resolutions approved by the city council.

In addition to banning encampments citywide, the resolutions call for “Fast-tracking the construction of 20,000 affordable housing units by 2033,” providing work opportunities, creating a diversion program to help people avoid entering the legal system, and setting budget priorities for programs that address homelessness.

Critics of the plan say the camping ban in particular skirts the root causes of homelessness in favor of improving optics, and that the proposed city-sanctioned camping zones would come with their own set of problems. According to Ann Oliva, CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “This may provide short-term political cover, but it does nothing to alleviate the core issues that most harm our communities and the people who live in them.” The American Civil Liberties Union Oregon chapter (ACLU) says the group will continue to fight encampment bans and sweeps, calling them violations of civil liberties.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 in Smart Cities Dive

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