Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced yesterday that the city is purchasing a half acre in the Central Eastside Industrial district to locate a city-sanctioned permanent homeless encampment.
The news came on the heels of reporting by the Oregonian that Portland has failed to meet it’s affordable housing goals by 1500 units. A tent city is not housing and in no way does it represent a good solution to the lack of affordable housing in this city. While immediate services and housing options need to be made available for Portland’s most vulnerable citizens, institutionalizing areas of public camping by providing city-owned land without providing basics like running water and sewer system does not signal a temporary stopgap measure; instead, it says “this is the best we can do.”
We can do better. We must do better.