Over 200 Portlanders share thoughts on Mayor Ted Wheeler’s homeless plan

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 9:26 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - More than 200 Portlanders were eager to have their voices heard, in-person and virtually, as they shared their thoughts on Mayor Ted Wheeler’s plan to try and address homelessness.

Last Friday, he announced he would be banning unsanctioned camping in the city and creating three sanctioned camping sites. Wheeler also hopes to connect people to jobs and partner with the district attorney’s office to divert unhoused people from the criminal justice system.

Portlanders are split on where they stand with his plan.

“The current situation is unacceptable it is both inhumane and unsafe to let conditions continue as they are,” Angela Wilhelms, the President of OBI, said.

“We are not the problem, we are a symptom of a broken system,” Nicole Pater, who’s experiencing homelessness, said.

The resolution said the designated camping sites would give 125 or so people a designated camping area at first, with the goal of expanding it to 500 people at each camp.

The camps are a main point of contention, and the fact that Wheeler said people could be ticketed if they choose not to go to these sanctioned camps.

Several realtors spoke up Wednesday and said people don’t want to move to Portland because of the housing crisis seen on the streets. They said these resolutions need to be adopted to make necessary changes.

“Woodstock is suffering from multiple homeless camps impeding the ability for homeowners to sell their homes. One such camp sits by this home and is adjacent to my parking lot,” Michelle Maida, a broker with John L. Scott Real Estate, said. “Hundreds of complaints were filed about illegal drug activity, open weapons, trash, multiple fires, and human feces to no avail for two years.”

Others, including those who experienced homelessness themselves, are concerned this will do more harm than good and say they shouldn’t be forced to relocate.

“Rounding people up with nowhere else to go is not only cruel and impractical but forcing them into camps cannot possibly be a culturally competent or equitable situation,” Mark Guzman, founder of Meals On Us PDX, said. “If you truly want to end homelessness the only way forward is with housing first, providing resources for survival like food and water and ensuring access to necessary medical care.”

The council is scheduled to vote November 3. You can still submit written testimony to cctestimony@portlandoregon.gov.