Portland Can Do Better

State of Emergency: We need action today

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and City Council have declared a housing emergency in our city. That’s a great start, but more needs to be done for the nearly 2,000 men, women and children who spend each night outside, where they are vulnerable to weather, assault, exploitation and addiction. At the most basic level, we believe people should have a warm and dry place to sleep, access to services they need and laws enforced so that everyone is safe.

I see the lack of action as a lack of compassion. There is a need for real change to help improve the quality of life for these individuals that have fallen on hard times.

J.O., Portland, OR

Allowing tents is not merciful; it’s apathetic.

L.B., Portland, OR

The choice is not simply criminal justice vs. public health. It’s neighborhood safety and improvement vs. neighborhood decay.

J.M., Portland, OR

There's a camp off of Barbur Blvd I drive by every day wondering how long before tragedy strikes (car hits someone, hill slides, fire outbreak).

K.H., Portland, OR

I have lived in Portland my entire life (50 years). I have worked downtown since I was 19 years old. Up until the past few years, I have always felt safe walking around, day or night.

J.S., Portland, OR

A caring, civilized society does not have people sleeping on the streets.

S.W., Portland, OR

The City of Portland needs to make this population a priority by administering proper shelter and mental health care.

N.C., Portland, OR

In the Fall, my husband asked me to stop running along the waterfront. He was terrified for my safety.

R.B., Portland, OR

I live in the Pearl and every day I encounter severely mentally ill homeless people who need support, medical supervision and housing as well as our compassion.

S.T., Portland, OR

There isn't a neighborhood near the city core not effected by camping and the number of sites is increasing.

Kim B., Portland, OR

I see the lack of action as a lack of compassion. There is a need for real change to help improve the quality of life for these individuals that have fallen on hard times.

Jake O., Portland, OR

I see our city changing and families deciding to move and business rethink their investments.

Dave P., Portland, OR

The City of Portland needs to make this population a priority by administering proper shelter and mental health care. Tenants and customers do not feel safe in our community, which contradicts the attitude and feeling that we as native Portlanders are waiting to express.

Noah C., Portland, OR

Portland can do better than this! Let's be a national leader in addressing this crying need.

Luke A., Portland, OR

I no longer feel safe walking home in the dark, which defeats the entire purpose of living within the city limits. In fact, it has become so bad I am choosing not to re-sign a lease in the area. Our city can do better.

Renee G., Portland, OR

These folks need help, and I don't think that means outdoor camps. I desperately hope that this crisis is finally getting the attention it needs to bring about a change. Portland is an amazing city, and as we're growing, we have to find ways to solve our big city issues that are coming along with that growth.

Traci H., Portland, OR

Recently had friends and family visit, and instead of talking about how lovely this city is, they only talked about how incredible it is that there are so many people sleeping on benches and on sidewalks, panhandling, etc. " It really says something about the health of the city."

Christi T., Port Orange, FL

I understand the homeless have problems and my heart goes out to them, however, our children should not have to suffer for it and should be able to go to a city park without being frightened by the numerous homeless people who live there or sleep there.

Marilyn A., Portland, OR

Our customers are from all over the metro area and many are afraid to come downtown. Visitors from out of town are often shocked by the evident homeless population and our beautiful vibrant city is suffering. It's time to do more about the problem.

Teri H., Portland, OR

A caring, civilized society does not have people sleeping on the streets.

Sharon W., Portland, OR

“It’s not okay for so many people to be stuck outside for the night.”

The Oregonian, Nov. 17, 2015

“Instead of requiring people to be sober, the program provided free housing, therapy and health care. After five years, 88 percent of the formerly homeless people were still in their homes.”

Lloyd Pendleton

Share Your Thoughts

Thousands on the street:
Facts about Portland's homeless

1.3,801 people in our city meet the federal government’s definition of “homeless”
2.More than 1,800 have no shelter at all, not even temporary
3.374 children were identified in the Jan. 28, 2015 point-in-time homeless count
4.More than 1,300 children attending Portland Public Schools were homeless at some point during the last school year
5.The number of homeless persons in our city climbs above 12,000, counting those living in marginal circumstances, such as motels or with relatives because they have nowhere else to go
6.Hundreds of women are forced to sleep outside each night because the city’s women’s shelters can only meet a fraction of the need
7.Adult women experiencing homelessness grew from 1,089 in 2013 to 1,161 in 2015
8.African Americans among the homeless count spiked 48% from 267 in 2013 to 396 in 2015
9.Oregon had the nation’s fourth highest percentage of “unsheltered” homeless individuals and families and recorded the third highest increase (behind California and New York) in the number of homeless people in 2015
10.Per capita, more families with children were without shelter in Oregon than any other state

Make a Difference

It simply is not safe or humane to have thousands of men, women and children sleeping in Portland’s parks and public areas. We need to do more and we need to act today. Tell our elected leaders you care. Tell them Portland must have more shelters, more services for those who need them, and more law enforcement to end dangerous and illegal behavior. Hold our elected leaders accountable for their response to this emergency. Portland is better than this.

News & Information

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‘Hood To Coast’ to avoid Springwater Corridor


New Hood to Coast route bypasses Springwater Corridor homeless camps entirely


Lawsuit dropped against Portland mayor over homeless camping


Hales ends homeless camping pilot, but pushes for outdoor shelters


Charlie Hales ends ‘safe sleep’ policy allowing homeless camping


Portland Business Alliance questions Springwater Corridor sweep delay


Why Clear Homeless Camps Now? Portland Mayor Explains


Hales: Springwater Corridor to be 'off limits' for homeless campers after massive cleanup


Lents Residents Protest Portland Mayor's Camping Policy


Multnomah County to open homeless shelter in Hansen Building


Business and neighborhood groups sue Portland over homeless camping


Portland Takes A Hands-Off Approach To Enforcing Camping Laws


Portland braces for summer surge in homelessness


Argument about camping spot leads to downtown Portland shooting, police say


Community confronts homeless camp issues near Springwater Trail


Springwater path users feel threatened by campers, police say their hands are tied


What if Mayor Charlie Hales smelled human waste next to his house?


Portland real estate owners donate space for new homeless shelter


'We're all human beings': Portland real estate moguls create temporary homeless shelter


Putting up the homeless at the armory makes sense: Editorial


City struggles to take action as homeless camps multiply


The director of five Portland homeless shelters says people on the streets need more than spare change.


Time to say 'enough' to misbehavior in Portland's public spaces.


Our Homeless Crisis: Portland Business Alliance urges City Hall to find more emergency beds