This week Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s expected to announce a plan to tackle homelessness. Wheeler wants to build 3 500 person homeless campuses, and ban unsanctioned camping in the city over 18 months.
News partner KGW got a copy of a letter, in which Wheeler asks the Multnomah County Commission for help, saying there are 700 homeless camps across the city, and crews can’t keep up.
In the letter, Mayor Wheeler lists requests of the county including:
• Open all county shelter spaces currently closed (open all 2,400 funded spaces)
• Manage and operate Safe Rest Villages
• Fund, build and operate three designated camping sites
• Provide health and human services at all shelters
• Obtain funding, build, and operate substance stabilization and treatment
• Fund district attorney, jail, and court operations
Democrat Tina Kotek describes it as a good idea. “They need to be able to make it happen,” she said. Independent Betsy Johnson said, “We’re finally getting to where we should have been a long time ago and I’d like to believe that it’s been my presence in this election cycle that has perhaps helped motivate the mayor.” Republican Christine Drazan issued this statement to our news partner KGW: “I spoke with Mayor Wheeler on Wednesday regarding his new plan to address homelessness in Portland. Location, security, and management of the new initiative are unknown at this time which leaves some major issues unanswered. But I am encouraged to see the city taking action. I look forward to working with Mayor Wheeler and local leaders as our state’s next governor to ensure homelessness is rare and temporary, reopen our sidewalks and public spaces, restore safety to our streets, and support Oregonians in need.”
Though they supported the outline of Wheeler’s plan, the candidates question what the ban will look like.
“What’s the level of services that are going to be provided for women or families? Trying to understand how they’re going to protect and help people feel secure,” said Kotek.
“He’s got a long way to go before it can be implemented, starting to try to harmonize the county and city’s approach to this problem,” said Johnson.