“Vortex of Misery”: Portland Mayor Caves Before Midterms, Will Ban Homeless Camps In Doomed Effort To Save Dems In November

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler caved in a doomed effort to save the Dems in the midterms but it is too little too late. He says he will now ban unsanctioned homeless encampments in the overwhelmed city calling the crisis “a vortex of misery for all involved.”

“The magnitude and the depth of the homeless crisis in our city is nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Wheeler said. “We need to move our scattered, vulnerable homeless population closer to the services that they need.”

“Collectively, this is a vortex of misery for all involved,” he added. Wheeler plans to move unhoused people to designated campsites after the ban on camping on city streets takes effect.

According to the AP:

“Under the measures, social workers would direct people camping on the street to the city’s designated camping sites. Police could arrest or cite people if they refuse to leave, Wheeler said. 

“But the citations could be waived as part of a “services diversion program” that would allow people cited for low-level offenses, such as violating the camping ban, to receive mental health or substance abuse treatment instead of jail time.”

Scott Kerman, executive director of Blanchet House, a Portland nonprofit that provides social services for the homeless said the plan “has some positive elements but there remain a lot of unanswered questions and unknown details.”

“We’re serving people that even in the most extreme winter and summer weather conditions will not seek out emergency shelter because they have such PTSD and anxiety about congregate shelter,” Kerman said.

“They have felt unsafe in those environments. They may have even been victimized in those environments.

“Our state hospital, our local hospitals, our county jails are already filled past capacity with people on mental health holds who are in the criminal justice system,” he said.

According to The New York Post:

The mayor’s resolution calls for moving the homeless to at least three designated campsites — with the first opening within 18 months of securing funding.

He didn’t specify when the funding would be confirmed or how much the measure would cost.

Under the plan, the camping sites would initially be able to serve up to 125 people and provide access to services such as food, hygiene, litter collection and treatment for mental health and substance abuse.

The designated sites could eventually serve 500 people, Wheeler said.

More than 3,000 people have no shelter in Portland, a 50% spike from 2019, and there are more than 700 encampments in the city, WFIN reported.