Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
Tammyís views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Eagle, his pastor, Tammyís neighbors, Wayne Mayo, Betsy Johnson, Joe Corsiglia, President Trump, Henry Heimuller, VP Pence, Pat Robertson, Debi Corsigliaís dog, or Claudia Eagleís Cats. This Tammyís Take (with the exception of this disclaimer) is not paid for or written by, or even reviewed by anyone but Tammy and she refuses to be bullied by anyone.
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Not everyone wants to be homeless
Circumstances dictate events that impact our lives
Winter weather finally shows up in Oregon with the forecast showing temperatures will hit the freezing mark this week. The last month or so Oregon had a lot of rain which is as bad if you are homeless. Society likes to ignore the problems associated with the homeless population. Granted some which are homeless are that way because of bad life choices, while others are thrown into being homeless because of circumstances beyond their control. Should we ignore these people and their problems and go about our own regular business without showing compassion and often feeling disgust at these peopleís daily lives and circumstances.
The homeless population in Multnomah County increased nearly 10 percent in the last two years: There are now at least 4,177 people without permanent homes on any given night in Portland. Many homeless advocates believe that the number is actually 3-4 times the number. As many homeless people are living in various places away from downtown.
Homeless advocates and city and county leaders have warned that, despite more money and attention to the problem, the housing crisis is still forcing many people onto the streets and there are not enough permanent housing options for these people. Even though the Portland Mission and The Union Gospel Mission helps many each night for a place to lay their heads there is not enough beds, and have to use a lottery system to offer what they can.
Many homeless people do not go to the missions because it is too crowded, they canít take their belongings, with them and frankly other homeless people steal their stuff if itís left unattended. The problem to overcome in order to help these people are rising rents, lack of low-income or affordable housing, low vacancy rates, and social service disparities such as lack of employment opportunities, affordable health, mental health and addiction care.
The number of homeless people dramatically increased when President Ronald Regan cut funds to house people with mental issues and threw them out on the streets without medications. And thanks to the deinstitutionalization movement, which closed many state psychiatric hospitals. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Virginia, by 2010, the number of beds per capita in psychiatric hospitals had plunged to 1850s levels. This trend continues on today. Funny how Regan discarded his fellow Americans who had mental issues but him, himself was treated for Antimeres.
Between 2015 and 2017 Portland rent rose 20 times faster than the area's median income, now at $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment. Federal disability and Social Security payments haven't kept pace with the cost of living increases keeping people out on the streets.
While the number of homeless adult women increased about 16 percent from 2015, fewer are on the streets. The number of women in emergency shelter doubled. Half of women experiencing homelessness have been in domestic violence situations and are forced to be homeless rather than stay in a home with an abusive partner.
One of the fastest-growing groups is people with physical or mental disabilities or those with substance abuse issues. From 2015, the number jumped 16 percent of all homeless people to make up more than 60 percent. For people living on the street and veterans, the number reached up to nearly 72 percent.
Why are there so many homeless people in Portland, the answer is partially because of the weather, it is milder than most other places, even when it is freezing and snowing it usually does not last as long as in other places. And Portlanders are more generous and spend millions yearly in private donations and tax dollars trying to help the homelessóand public officials are blocked by the courts from regulating vagrancy in ways that are routine elsewhere.
About three-fourths of Portlandís homeless are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and roughly half have a mental illness of one kind or another, though many remain undiagnosed. Women on the streets are likely to be assaulted within 72 hours. Men get beat up. When you add that on top of schizophrenia or dissociative disorders, people keep getting worse and their future gets even dimmer. People in social services, the community and even government realize this but still small measures are taken to help the homeless, lack of funds are the usual problem.
But in Oregon we have many huge corporations who pay a dollar a year in taxes or none or who receive huge tax abatements which go into the millions. Why not increase their taxes and reduce tax abatements and take those funds and apply the money directly to build one room and family sized permanent housing for the homeless. Allowing these people to get the help they desperately need. Then they can get treatment/ medications and then a job and become productive citizens. In turn after they get stable they could pay a little rent and function in society. Not everyone on the streets is mentally ill, and not everyone is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Some just lost their jobs, slipped through the cracks, and the system, and found themselves in quagmire from which they canít escape.
People that are mentally ill are unable to take care of themselves inside or outside a tiny house or affordable apartment, and frankly we need state institutions and other housing where these people are supervised and are given their medications every day so they can go to a job and have some sort of a normal productive life. We owe this to our fellow human beings.
Yet some people still arenít going to make it, some people will hit bottom and stay there, no matter how many affordable units we build and no matter how generous and tolerant we are. That is the realistic approach to the homeless problem, but we can still help those who want help and are trying to improve on their situation. Why you ask? Because it is simply the right thing to do, showing compassion to other beings is a simple act to perform. And remember at any time circumstances beyond your control could render you homeless.
I suggest that throughout the year get involved with local organizations who help the homeless and get involved, you will find that everybody has a story behind their situation and your opinion of homeless people might just change.