The same laws, of course! should govern the homeless and non homeless! Are we not all citizens of the same state? Whether or not we pay taxes or contribute in any way but to litter, defecate on sidewalks, and smell up public transit? What bothers me most is the fact that the homeless are above the law. My home was robbed last year by homeless men, whom I caught, myself, and no justice whatsoever was given to me, no retribution for my losses. The police simply shrug and smile, or ask us to show mercy, because "what they WANT is to be sent to jail." Or, "You can't squeeze water from a stone."
As a once-tolerant person who, was, herself also homeless for a short time six years ago, my views today shock even me. Having lived downtown for the past two years, I am appalled at the disgrace of the human condition, the pieces of living filth that we city dwellers are forced to step over, around, and ignore, even at home, at night while we are trying to sleep.
There are, of course, the career homeless men, who are flocking here because we keep building more space for them, and the teenage holiday homeless, who come for the generous handouts form well-meaning tourists. To these I say, "Go home. Ask your mom for money." No longer do they add "color" to downtown, unless it is the color of human waste on the steps of my apartment. There are simply too many to find amusing or pitiable. I know the economy has taken a downturn. I realize that Medicare has been cut. There are many people just looking for a place to sleep. But most of them are not Oregonians. they hear that this is the place to be. Downtown business suffers. Locals are disgusted. I propose a solution! People of Portland, visitors to Portland, "Stop giving them cash! there is so much food to be handed out that the homeless litter the street with it! If you stop paying them they will figure something else out."
Your questions presume there is a direct relationship between homelessness and panhandling (and other less than positive social behavior). it reflects a bias that tells me you haven't lived on the street before.
Homelessness is a complex issue: I know, I can still remember when the best place to sleep in Oregon was under northbound I-5 at the eastbound 205 underpass (paved/flat/not dusty, dry, and usually out of the most of the wind). It's been many years, but I still remember it fondly as 'the hotel Oregon'.
Panhandling is a different, though sometimes related issue, there are many homeless who don't panhandle, and I personally have known people who panhandled who were not homeless. I don't care who you are, if you haven't lived out there with no option to go "home", you have no clue which is which, and if you are out there, you probably don't have reason to care as long as your corner isn't threatened. The occasional reporter or advocate who "visits" the life has no clue what it feels like, you can't shake knowing that you have a home... and trust me, the driven and the survivors will never tell you what they really think.
Let me explain those terms. Among the truely homeless, there are three different groups to consider: the helpless (especially the elderly, little kids, and the newly homeless (especially runaways)), the driven (those addicted to alcohol, drugs, or the mentally imbalanced), and the survivors. The former would welcome getting off the street, the middle no longer trust the idea of 'home' for various reasons, and the latter might consider it, but have determined that this way of living is fine for them for now.
Legislating against aggressive panhandling is not legislating against homelessness, just limiting resources for some of them. It hurts them if you don't legislate replacement options or at least allow caring groups (like the Missions) to do what you won't. Legislating against worse behavior is what a civil society must do or it will degenerate into chaos (which is often what life on the street is). Homeless people shouldn't be allowed to accost a stranger any more than anyone else is.
I paint with broad strokes, because space won't permit details. Let me sum up: creating laws against panhandling is a selfish but somewhat understandable response when more annoying behavior has been over-defended by ?do-gooders? who have no real clue what they're choosing to protect. Homelessness is a separate but occasionally related situation where we need to consider the behavior: help those who actually want help to rise above it... and let those who don't want exist as long as they don't abuse civil society or our willingness to care for the helpless. Support your local Rescue Mission or Soup Kitchen, they have the right ideas and know what it takes to make a difference.
All homeless aren't panhandlers just as all panhandlers aren't homeless. Agressive panhandlers need their behaviour put in check but there are already laws against street robberies and mugging.
Nuff law already exist!
Are we sure the overly-aggressive solicitation tactics were not complaints filed against street corner fundraising NPOs? Why groups which benefit the common good need to beg for money is a whole different show, but I find their presence much more obtrusive.
On a side note- Santa Barbara, CA solved this, temporarily, by buying all of the homeless bus tickets to San Francisco.
First of all the ACLU is not about civil liberties. It is about shutting people up and out. Then they find big interest issues like this, and make a stink as to make them look like they actually are performing their job. I know because they refused to help me after I was sent to jail for raising my hand to ask a question in the "Free Speech Area", where I was a student attending SFSU. I most likely would not have had my spells of joblessness and homelessness if the ACLU just returned my phone calls, emails or letters. I may have been permitted to take my midterms and continue my college education, had the ACLU of California intervened.
That did not happen, so I am now an expert on the homeless and jobless situation from the position of the bug under your shoe.
As a person who has been homeless for periods of time, I find this law a stroke of genius. I just hope that it is well publicized and posted so that passers through know the law. I hope that the state adopts it and that all panhandling ceases. To keep this law from becoming a cash cow for the county, the money should go towards shelters or homeless advocacies?. Clearing the streets and sidewalks from panhandlers is a necessity here in Portland, otherwise you would be tripped, cursed out, assaulted, and/or find yourself apologizing for not having change for every panhandler who got in your way.
There is a major difference between being temporarily homeless and being a career bum. I was a temporarily homeless young woman a few years ago. I was harassed out of my job and replaced by 3 white men, when I tried to use my old job as a reference, I found that I had been black-listed. I was severely depressed and did not have any friends or family to turn to. I never looked at panhandling as a way to support myself. I fought my way into social security with the help of a few homeless advocacy representatives and got the representation that I needed to get government support and eventually a room. Agencies such as HAP ? Homeless advocacy project are a goddess send when you are in need of help. The weeks that I spent there was worth more to my stability than any spare change that I may have gotten out of pity. The most important things during that time to me were my dignity and my safety. If I lost either one of those then I never would have made it.
Whenever I see a woman on the street, I look for a while to see if this is her career or if she is in need of help. Some of the women will shout nasty slurs at you, which to me means that this is their job or that they are beyond help. Some of these people are able bodied and sane, however the majority of the homeless in Portland are men who have decided that living on the street suits them. They could be running from the law, deadbeat dads, rapist or men with a strong sense of entitlement. Now that I am disabled and living in a government subsidized building, I see my neighbors on the streets rattling people for ?Sparechange?? (yes that is one word here). Some of neighbors look homeless, and panhandle but are actually living in pretty decent conditions. There is no shortage of food here and I know that many of them are hard drug users. Try asking a panhandler if you could offer them some food instead of change and you will get an earful.
The problem in Portland is that there is a lot of white, rich guilt visiting here. These tourist or California transplants believe that they are gaining karma points in their handouts. These change givers are a major part of the problem. They do not seem to know or care that many men have come to Portland to be homeless. The tourist and transplants don?t hear the men?s slurs because they are safe in their SUV?s. The tourist also don?t wake up to rattling cans in shopping carts with some jerk who feels he has to share what?s on his mind at any given hour of the day. These men are lawless, shiftless and frequently verbally assault women passing by. As a veteran who has PTSD, hearing a man shouting verbal assaults will trigger me into a panic. I use public transit and frequently share the bus and sidewalks with these men. I try to ignore them and pretend to not see them so that they will not get agitated, sometimes this works and other times; I will get some bum yelling what he wants to do to me. Career bums make it hard for me to enjoy my beautiful city. Portland is a beautiful city; however you will not find many women jogging by the waterfront because the benches are full of career bums waiting to verbally assault women. The bums feel that they own the benches, the streets, the Library, the storage units a trash can on a corner and whatever they can get away from you. This makes it hard for me to go outside and enjoy my city. In downtown Portland you are almost guaranteed to pass a career bum about every block. These men have staked out their territories and have a system worked out for taking up that space.
You would think that by the way that these men smell and dress that there is a water shortage here or that they can not get used clothes. That is not true. Portland has shelters for men and very limited space for women. For instance, I was turned away when I was seeking emergency shelter for a night because a reservation was required. After spending a day on the phone to a list of shelters in the Portland area, I had a melt down and ended up in the emergency room. There simply were no available beds for a drug-free woman. My friend tells me stories of when she was homeless; she relates how she was turned away for shelter because she was not abusing any substances. I know of another woman who was sexually assaulted in the military, she went to Vancouver to stay in the VA?s transitional housing. She states that the men all leered at her and that there was no separation between the men?s and women?s rooms.
Portland needs people to stop giving ?sparechange? to bums. A fine should be imposed on the person handing out change that way people will not have to feel guilty or say, ?Sorry I don?t have any change?. This should not be a sneaky fine; it should be well posted for tourist. Our corrupt shelters need to stop paying their CEO?s 6 figures, and stop sheltering junkies. There are people out there that just need a place to sleep, and a little help getting their life together. If you cram these shelters full of junkies, where are the people who really want and need help supposed to go? The shelters seem to advocate use of dangerous drugs and discriminate against Medical marijuana. Many of the career bums are getting away with substance abuse, assault, vandalism and harassment. These guys should be in jail, not out harassing and intimidating pedestrians. The police need to do a better job of keeping these men in check. It appears that the police department would much rather arrest someone who has money than a law breaking career bum. A major issue is that our jails are being misused as places to make a few people money, if they were being used to keep dangerous people off of the street, we would not have the influx of panhandlers/career bums.
Having been born and raised in Oregon I have applauded this state for its stand(s) on free speech and individual rights. Let the municipalities waste tax money in coming up with laws so the ACLU can chime in and put Oregon back in the national news.
I interact with panhandlers each and every day and no matter how many laws are passed, it will not change anytime soon. If people don't like panhandlers on the "street," ignore them - if you don't like them on mass transit, sit somewhere else. If one becomes a victim of a "homeless" person, contact your local DA's office in person with the facts and a witness or two and maybe some pictures if the local police decide not to help.
I sort of agree with the person that people who decide to give panhandlers money are the ones that need the most help and we need more laws to protect them from themselves. It appears that the investigative reporting done by the local media several years back has been forgotten - they ran into panhanlers that were making more money than most and not paying taxes...
From what I have seen in the city of Portland, there are two types of homeless - the ones that become that way because of an inability to make a living for various social reasons and the others who just decide it's a good way of making a quick buck.
So Yes, enforcing panhandling is a good way of discouraging the ones who operate it as a business but it isn't going to solve the problem of homelessness.
A better way of tackling homelessness would be putting homeless people into a program that would get them a job or help them with their drug addiction problem or any other problem that has led them to a life on the streets.
On top of this there should be safeguards for the working class to hold onto their jobs and be able to get proper health care because these will be the people most threatened to fall into homelessness either because they couldn't pay their mortgage or because they have a disability neither the government nor the private insurance companies want to address. This is why a lot of homeless people choose to stay homeless. They get food from their local soup kitchen and medical attention from local charities. The working class struggle to get these issues on a regular basis. Following the system does not work anymore.
A reduction in the number of real homeless people automatically repels the homeless entrepreneurs because they stand out.
If the city of Roseburg has strong programs like these then their law is valid.
Anatole France once wrote: ?The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread.?
I wonder what we intend to do with these laws, other than harrass the homeless and sweep the problem off the streets of our cities, so we need not be bothered?
Why not simply make it illegal to be poor? That ought to solve the problem....
Yeppers, poor people sure are a nuisance.
I note that Conservatism always creates poverty and that there are other forms of politics which try to alleviate poverty; we're currently experiencing the results of decades of politics descending into Conservatism, worse and worse extremes of poverty and degradation of human beings.
If people always say money doesn't "buy you happiness" - then whats wrong with poverty and why should we fix it? Isn't happiness what we all strive for?
"money doesn't buy you happiness"
"It just rents it for a while", is the clever response I've heard to that old saying.
We are all participants in a game with the rules made by the wealthy, nobody gets to not-participate. If you are alive you will in some way contribute to the transfer of wealth upwards to the very rich. But some resist the rules as much as they can and some give up the competition or are incapable of competing.
I think there should be some bottom under which a human being will not be pushed or reduced.
As a retired mental health worker (albeit not in Multnomah county), my concern is for those homeless adolescents who hang around pioneer square and scare the dickens out of people. How do we fix this? There will always be some kids who refuse all help, but most of them would gladly embrace help. Some need residential drug and alcohol treatment. Some need some sort of extended family in the form (probably) of a place to hang out, cook, sleep, and get some help learning to survive in the "normal" world. The one thing that would probably do the most would be to extend services to foster children who are "aging out" of the system. We cut most kids off with no funds and no place to be when they hit 18. Those kids are some who make up the "steet families". Ennough. This is a problem I'm still passionate about!
Most people feel that the reason that people are homeless is that they are lazy and laws such as this one are built on that assumption. The laws also are built on society's assumption that issues such as this have a quick fix. Since both of these assumptions are false, the laws that they are based on do little to help homelessness. The reasons people are homeless are multifaceted; untreated mental illness, the lack of low income housing, and the afore mentioned public misconceptions. Until we, as a society, deal with these real issues little will be to solve homelessness.
I really enjoy shopping at Powell's books and Trader Joe.. sadly both locations attract homeless and other forms of public badgering. I avoid these stores limiting my visits to the loss of the store owner !... I realy get tired of being badgered by the homeless James Parsons
This will sound foolish, simple and ignorant to most, but it isn't and it seems important. Are any people without homes happy? I'm miserable and I have a home. Some people seem so passionate about homelessness that it has to be fixed - its almost like a religion. Maybe it does. For some people it should. There should clearly be help for those who want it. People without homes must be somewhat like people with homes, but clearly many have mental illness and other issues - but also many are just crappy people like the rest of us.
I have to admit I am not compassionate at all when I am asked for money, it annoys me, however it doesn't annoy because I am afraid or want to ignore "the problem" - I just think its rude. I also think people wanting me to sign petitions or give money to any charity on the sidewalk are rude.
Having said that - people should still be able to do it if they want to! People should be allowed to be rude or nice. If people can go around selling things they certainly have the right to ask for money. But it also doesn't mean I have to dreamily make homelessness into something that it isn't, which so many people in Oregon seem to do.
The sit-lie law in downtown Portland has simply shifted the people sitting/lying on the sidewalks over to the sidewalks around my apartment building (which is downtown). In the summer I have to fight my way through crowds of up to 30 homeless people, who insist on harassing me, just to get into my building, of which the homeless people use the doorway as their own personal bathroom and the sidewalk a their trash can. At this moment there are two police cars in front of the Julia West house, and 5 homeless people hanging out on the sidewalk - yet another 'incident.' Julia West house is not helping people, it just corrals the homeless into a few block radius. I used to be sympathetic to homeless people, but after all the inappropriate crap homeless people have said to me, being woken up frequently at two AM from some inconsiderate jerks shouting at each other, and the frequent ambulance/police showing up at Julia West house for fights and drug overdoses, I don't care about them at all, I just want them to go away. The panhandling around downtown is a constant annoyance also, but a quick no is all it takes. There is no way to be 'comfortable' with a stranger asking you for money. Worse are the people asking for money for charities - they are basically asking for the same thing (they get paid much more than minimum wage to stand there and ask for money) but are pumped up on self-righteousness, and can't take no for an answer. I used to love living downtown but what with the homeless people, gutter punks, drug addicts, lunatics, and clipboard carriers, I can't wait until I graduate and can afford to move out of here.
To the woman who responded on-air: I have to disagree that this is simply a part of 'urban living.' I've lived downtown for a total of about 8 years in a few different apartments and neighborhoods, and I lived in close-in North Portland before it was completely redeveloped, when rent was still super cheap. The problems I described above didn't exist in other neighborhoods that I have lived in, in fact, they were not even an issue on my block until the sit-lie law was enacted and the Julia West House became the place for homeless people to hang out. Sure, we had random homeless people/drug addicts/drunkards/panhandlers and a few permanent fixtures which generally was not a problem, but the difference is that now it is a concentrated, large group in a few block radius, which makes is very difficult to deal with. As a woman, I don't feel safe in my neighborhood anymore, particularly during the summer. Where can I find out more information about giving input to the city? I've filed complaints with the city and spoken with the police officers for my 'hood, but I've basically just been told that there's nothing to be done about it. It's sad, really, that this will end up causing up-standing citizens to abandon the neighborhood. Of course, I am sure that when the new office tower is finished in two years the city will make a concerted effort to clean up the halfway houses and homeless shelters, and then will finally do something about the crowds of homeless on my street.
Wow, I know. I live by the library, so I know what you mean. And the on-air discussion completely skirted the panhandling issue, tried to make it seem as if no one is asking for money downtown, just sitting and grinning. One would think that the problem downtown is a shortage of benches.
BY Shannon Thompson Portland OR.
I believe we should not give the homeless money but to donate to the local programs that will then in turn help create spaces and programs to get them "off the sidewalks and streets" I we want to give to the individual we should by vouchers to hand out for meal or clothes only that could be used at participating location. I haven't really noticed that there arn't people still sitting on the side walk maybe place benches but I don't believe that stopping people from sitting is really going to make possitive changes.
The restaurant talked about on the show is Rock Bottom Brewery on SW 4th which blocks off an entire corner with tables and a plastic fence, and it's difficult for pedestrians, esp. since it's next to the MAX tracks, but if you're on a bicycle, much less a wheelchair, it's a nightmare. The law is simply not reinforced fairly.
As for the woman who was supposedly urinated on, etc. - in fifteen years in Portland, I've never had a panhandler do anything like that, and be nothing but polite and easy-going. Drunks and druggies are simply that - doesn't mean they're homeless, just as being homeless does not mean you're a drunk.
Are you sure that's Rock Bottom? I swear I thought she was talking about the Greek Cuisina. Eh, maybe they are both doing it at this point.
All panhandlers are polite and easy-going? Either you are dreaming or the dozens of my women friends who find Pioneer Square uncomfortable are dreaming.
i work at a small business in se portland. i just got off the phone with portland police nonemergency asking them to have a person move (i have called several times a month) that has been living in front of my place of work for over 2 months. trust me, i understand that this is a complicated issue. the reason i call the police is NOT because i am insensitive to the homeless population. it is because i have to continually clean up bodily waste, needles, condoms, meth packets, assorted garbage, etc. AND conduct a business. my current 'resident' is kind enough to store his urine in containers overnight and then dump them on the sidewalk each morning. i work for a foodservice distributor and needless to say the current situation is definitely NOT business friendly.
I work downtown. I don't get up at 6 am to give my money to some kid dressed head-to-toe in Hot Topic gear who takes a break from his cell phone conversation to ask for change. Don't get me started I got a million examples of panhandlers in need of a swift kick. I have given money to elderly folks who are obviously mentally ill, no problem with that.
Missing from this discussion so far is the fact that part of this law involved building a homeless day access center in downtown Portland. Money from the Portland Business Alliance and the City of Portland was to go to this project and it is certainly needed. Citizens need to support this if they care about getting needed daytime services for homeless people that can help them break the cycle of homelessness.
I doughted very strongly the women who called in saying she had many bad experiences with homeless people asking for money and feeling threatened. She described one situation that sounded specific however overall she sounded easliy offendable. I lived and worked in downtown portland for almost 7 years, never once was I or any one I knew made to feel threated.I can't stress that enough, were as of course it is possible to have a uncomfortable situation occur, not I or anyone I knew or worked with ever did. I enganged homeless people as if they were any other stranger on the street, and rather then being treated badly I was the recipient of kind actions. On many occasions I have had someone who I just said no to when they asked for change outside the riteaid open the door for me, and frequently when I went to carry the a-frame board that advertised our store location(funny how that is not illegal but a person is)a homeless man would carry it back to my store for me.
I was struck my the contradiction of maria rubio, saying policy was not to end homelessness but to make the streets more enjoyable to everyone. Everyone that has money to be shopping that is. If you are bothered by seeing or interacting with homeless people then chances are you are someone who choses to stay ingnorant about many other "uncomforable" issues as well. From the legality of animal torture that happens in labs across the country, the end result of global warming(an inconvient truth well titled) to the end result of a failing mental health system.
I was shopping in the pearl district lately. Something I do not often do. I was almost run over by a bright yellow hummer with a license plate saying something about loving hummers. That is who that area is trying to cater to. keeping homeless people away and off the streets is just a way to GLOSS OVER the city. And I fing that disgusting. When I was there there was a homeless man standing asking for change, which i believe standing is legal, and not the police but secruity gaurds harassed him in to moving along. It was not the homeless man but those security gaurds that ruined my shopping experience. Which is why I do not often go there.
To some it up- fix the problem at the roots dont just try to cover it up!!!
I think how you framed the issue contributes to confusion. Obviously not all homeless people panhandle and not all panhandlers are homeless. The panhandlers on freeways are dropped off by people driving vans. Who knows whether they are homeless or not. Legislating against aggressive panhandling is not legislating against homelessness. The two issues should not be fused in the way your program does.
Please, Please, Please have a conversation about homelessness and how Portland as a city is "dealing" with it. How does Portland stack up compared to other cities? Do we have more homelessness or less? Do we have more human services programs or less? Are we doing enough? My overall question is this: Is Portland trying to help its homeless population "get back on its feet" with human services programs and the like; or is Portland just trying to remove its homeless from visibility with things like the "sit and lie" laws. I think it would be very interesting to hear whether Portlanders think we are doing too much or too little to help our homeless population.
Sorry there is so many questions in this post.
We cannot separate this issue from the increasing pressure local governments are under because of federal and state tax cut policy. As federally funded programs ratchet down, more of the programs necessary to address the root causes of homelessness are either eliminated or passed along to counties and cities. But, like a school nurse trying to treat an uninsured and sick child, there are not enough resources to provide more than band-aid remedies, such as sit-lie, day shelters, bathrooms, etc. And those costs get passed along to the entire society-- a larger cost than was saved in the tax cuts to begin with.
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