Mayor Wheeler To Provide Update On The Progress Of Temporary Alternative Shelter Site Development Thursday.
Portland, Ore. — Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler, has released a video statement addressing the city’s homelessness crisis, with a focus on the intersection between substance use, behavioral health, and homelessness.
The statement was based on extensive research, outreach, and discussions with mayors from across the United States. Mayor Wheeler has been in discussions with elected officials at the city, county, metro, and state levels to tackle the crisis. The mayor plans to establish Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites to work alongside existing homelessness shelter services, with a goal to eliminate unsanctioned, unsheltered camping in Portland through the development of affordable housing and Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites.
Mayor Wheeler provided statistics that indicate thousands of people are living unsheltered on Portland’s streets, with unsheltered homelessness in the city increasing by 50% from 2019 to 2022. He noted that the situation is a humanitarian catastrophe that creates public health, safety, and livability concerns for the entire community. Mayor Wheeler emphasized that the homeless face incredible danger on the streets, with a report recently finding that 20% of all homicide victims in 2021 were homeless.
Mayor Wheeler also highlighted the issue of substance use disorder among the homeless population. He stated that while some people undoubtedly become homeless because of drug use or mental health issues, the vast majority become homeless first, and then begin using drugs or developing behavioral health issues later. The Mayor noted that Oregon has the highest meth use rates in the United States, and Meth contributed to nearly half of all homeless deaths in Multnomah County in 2021.
Finally, Mayor Wheeler called for a workable and compassionate means to connect people to whatever services they need to get off and stay off the streets, such as shelter, housing, treatment, workforce training, and other services. He emphasized that the provision of affordable housing is crucial to preventing and ending homelessness, and Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites would work in-tandem with existing homelessness shelter services to better connect homeless Portlanders to services. The Mayor’s statement sets the stage for the bold initiatives he will lead to ultimately eliminate unsanctioned, unsheltered camping in Portland.