Portland, you have a problem

PORTLAND, Ore. — Allow me this paraphrasing of the comment astronaut Jim Lovell relayed to Earth when his moon ship was damaged in space: Portland, you appear to have a problem.

I say “appear” because appearances are all I have at this moment.

Driving through Portland this afternoon along Interstate 5, I noticed a number of tent clusters. I have heard, along with other Americans, about the homeless problem in my hometown. Today I saw evidence of what I have heard.

The clusters of tents also contain considerable amounts of litter, trash, debris. Quite unsightly? Yes! It assuredly is hard to look at.

Here’s my question: What is the city doing to alleviate this problem?

No community anywhere wants to be known as a haven of sorts for homeless citizens. Yet that is what I believe is occurring in this lovely city of about 650,000 residents living in a greater metropolitan area of 2.5 million folks. Portland has become a great city. It is attractive. It has a vibrant river running through it, which then empties into one of the world’s great rivers on the city’s northern boundary. It has a downtown district that has become — even with the spate of violence seen here in recent times — the envy of other cities.

But it does have this homeless population that requires safe housing in which to live.

Is the city up to the challenge it faces? Man, I hope so.


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