City Council Testimony, Oct 3, 2018

Elliott Young, Annette Johnson, Leo Rhodes, Kimberley McCullough and Sarah Iannarone

5 Things the City Can Do to Respond to Homelessness with Compassion

 

1)   Develop a robust group of first-responders who are trained to deal with mental health and addiction crises who would be the ones to connect people living on the streets with services.  These first-responders could also address livability issues like needles in parks, garbage in neighborhoods, and low-level theft if victims did not want to involve the police.

 

2)   Declare a moratorium on sweeps of homeless camps. Until we can offer adequate alternatives, sweeping people from one part of the city is just an expensive and harmful way to deal with the housing crisis.

 

3)   Provide basic services for hygiene for people living on the street, including restrooms, water, and garbage disposal.  Many of resident complaints stem from the lack of adequate infrastructure for people living on the streets. Addressing basic needs will solve a great part of the problem.

 

4)   Legalize temporary camps on city-owned property, as well as providing services to make them clean, safe and viable. There are already successful examples of city-sanctioned camps so let’s expand  this model.

 

5)   Track arrests of homeless people, publish data on a city website, and hold responsible parties accountable for achieving a drastic reduction of arrests.  We should not have to rely on the investigative journalism of the Oregonian to learn basic facts about how the city deals with its homeless population.

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  • Compassion 4 Homeless PDX

Mayor Ted Wheeler says he agrees with most of what we said during City Council Testimony, 10/3/18

 On October 3rd we presented our petition with more than 4000 signatures plus a wide range of co-sponsors from social justice, civil rights, and homeless advocacy groups.  Street Roots vendors Leo Rhodes and Annette Johnson testified about their own experiences with addiction and the difficulties they face on the streets of Portland when the community and the police view them as criminals.  Kimberly McCullough, policy director at the ACLU, spoke about the common-sense solutions that we can work on together as a community without criminalizing the homeless through over-policing.  Sarah Iannarone spoke about the problems created by hiring more police and directing them to sweep homeless encampments and crackdown on low-level offenses.  Elliott Young presented the petition and made five recommendations that the city could enact immediately or in the near future (see below).

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