Polling: Most Portlanders are terrified of downtown and walking in their own neighborhoods

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 3:04 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - New polling research commissioned by the City of Portland and obtained by FOX 12 reveals that most Portland residents fear going downtown.

Another shocking conclusion shows that most Portlanders are scared to walk in their own neighborhoods, day or night.

From May 2-16, 2022, DHM Research polled 500 Portland residents with the purpose of finding their opinions about downtown, the central city, neighborhoods, homelessness, public safety, and policies to support housing affordability.

The results showed 59% of residents had negative opinions of downtown. The top reasons were:

  • Homelessness - 66%
  • Trash and graffiti - 60%
  • Vandalism and property crime - 51%
  • Violent crime - 50%
  • Parking - 29%

Portland resident Susan Robens said homelessness, trash, and crime are the reasons she doesn’t visit downtown.

“When you come down here you see boarded buildings and closed businesses, you know?” said Robens “So it’s like what happened to this city?”

The good news is that 57% of those surveyed in the community stated they would still travel downtown. Those individuals were typically younger, wealthier, and more likely to reside on the west side of the Willamette River. Older people are less likely to visit the downtown area.

Lulit Mesfin has lived in Portland since 1979 and walks along the Downtown waterfront almost daily. She said Portland has become an entirely different city over the years.

“Portland used to be a beautiful, beautiful city,” she said. “But now with the homeless situation, the drug situation, and the crime, things have changed.”

Mesfin said she doesn’t avoid downtown because she considers it Portland’s cultural hub, but she hopes it sees better days soon.

“I walk by here every day and I see the city suffers,” she said. “Taking care of the graffiti, you know every day, it’s just an uphill battle.”

More results from the polling showed that only 41% of respondents reported feeling “very safe” while walking alone during the day in their neighborhood, and only 16% reported feeling “very safe” while walking alone at night. Walking alone at night made over half of them feel “very unsafe” or “extremely unsafe.”

78% of residents who said they felt unsafe indicated they feared a physical attack.

See the full survey questions here.

Find out more about how the polling was conducted here.