Author Alma McCarty writes about the Portland daytime camping ban.
Executive directors of day centers in Portland worry a proposed daytime camping ban, if passed, could strain their limited resources and place a heavy burden on the people they strive to serve: the homeless and those living in poverty.
Even ahead of the implementation the measure, introduced by Mayor Ted Wheeler at City Council on Wednesday, both Rose Haven and Blanchet House report record numbers.
“Every day is busy. A year ago, a little over a year ago, we moved from a facility that was 3,000 square feet to this beautiful 10,000 square-foot facility, and it’s full,” explained Katie O’Brien with Rose Haven. “We are full and we are seeing about 150 people here a day.”
“To carry your house and your life around with you, with the expectation that you’re also going to come to a place like Rose Haven and be productive, it’s just adding to the problem. It’s not helping to eliminate it,” O’Brien said.
“We do not get any government funding. We’ve existed for 26 years without it, without a nickel of government funding while providing a huge public benefit,” explained O’Brien. “We are at our threshold. And how is the city going to help us?”
The daytime ban is seen as a first step in another plan that Wheeler announced last year to develop six sanctioned mass camping sites and then phase in a total ban on camping everywhere else in the city. None of the site have opened yet, although Wheeler’s office released some details about the first planned site earlier this year.