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September 17, 2019


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First thing to dismiss is the recent misconception of homelessness as a new problem.
Here's a snip from Wikipedia:
"A hobo is a migrant worker or homeless vagrant, especially one who is impoverished. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890.[1] Unlike a "tramp", who works only when forced to, and a "bum", who does not work at all, a "hobo" is a traveling worker. "
Notice the word, "WORKER"!
And therein is the crux of our little dilemma ; the shopkeeper working her or his ass off v.s. the transient parasite of 2019 that produces nothing for society and never will.
I have VERY fond memories of working at 377 Court St as a college job.
We had exposure way back then to walk-ins hard up on their luck.
Many of them walked away with a hefty sack lunch of left-overs at no charge as long as they understood NEVER to return.
But just the s l i g h t e s t hint of a problem and the Salem police were there in seconds, throwing them out in the street!
Sleeping in the doorway???? Not a chance! Didn't happen.
What changed?
Do a voice-over of Dana Carvy:
"Let's see. What could it be, what could it be??"
"Could it be FAILING LIBERAL POLICY??!!!!"
Something changed.
It wasn't the new restaurant owner of that shop and it wasn't me.
What changed, Brian, that has turned our fine city into a dysfunctional toilet?
And will our city manager's plan to hand out needles to junkies make things better?

Salem has not had a safety issue downtown with homeless people according to Salem PD. There was an assault on a business owner 1 & 1/2 year ago. Does anyone know the facts on that?
Salem’s downtown is safe. I am not deterred from shopping downtown because I may see a few homeless people. I know many personally.
I worked over 30 years in mental health. Mostly at Oregon State Hospital. The state of Oregon is not held accountable for dropping patients off on Salems & elsewhere sidewalks after the state spent millions to hospitalize. Some still in the same mental state as the day they went into the hospital. Why aren’t they going to court for recommitment? Lack of bed space. The numbers of mentally ill are not going down.
The state took away funding for group homes a few years ago. The mental health system is more broken than ever. The new hospitals are money pits.
Many homeless are mothers & children living in cars not hanging out downtown, yet. There aren’t enough places that take families. Children. There aren’t enough shelter beds.
Many people had homes until a disability, injury, medical issues. They are indeed us.
Most people are one paycheck away from homelessness. As rents go up people on fixed incomes / social security / disability get squeezed out of affordable homes and apartments.
Other than Shelters there are no places for people to go. There are not enough shelter beds for couples, children. or people with pets.
Where is it ok for them to go in Salem?
With park police sweeps happening almost daily more people are living in fear of where they can go & be safe in Salem. It isn’t easy or fun for people who are homeless in Salem.
They have to find new places daily.
Try getting a job when surviving day to day is
So difficult.

Thank you Lorrie, for your well informed and objective summary.
Homeless people on the streets of Salem has little to do with liberalism or conservatism. It is a matter of law. As the rule of law continues to evaporate, those who find the presence of the homeless distasteful or inconvenient will find a way to dilute the laws that still, sorta, protect human rights.
It is certainly unfair and outrageous that honest business people are victimized but who is doing the victimizing and who has the ability to ameliorate the victimization?
The homeless have little or no ability to help themselves. On the other hand, government has the resources to make things better - they only lack the political will to do so.
I had a conversation with a wealthy individual recently and straight out asked him: Wouldn't your life be better if you lived in a world with less suffering? His response was: No, I am wealthy enough to avoid coming into contact with those who suffer. How is that for subjectivity?
I think homeless people on the street serve as a reminder to those that have retained a semblance of humanity that there are desperate and helpless people within this incredibly wealthy country.
It is unfortunate that hard working business people suffer through no fault of their own but their losses are the result of an uncaring society, not the will to continue living that a certain segment of society exhibits.
The removal of the homeless from Wallace Marine Park is simply cruel. They harm nobody except the overly sensitive - and they were there first.
Many years ago, I knew someone who stayed at UGM and she said that people were not allowed to stay inside during daytime hours even when they were not feeling well. Perhaps this policy, if it still exists, could be reexamined. This would certainly help to alleviate the problems that downtown businesses experience.
Perhaps the City might even provide a space where the homeless could hang out during the day. While the City would assert that the costs would be too high, rest assured, dear reader, that that is utter nonsense. It is simply a matter of priorities.
People in prisons are not let out during the day and that seems to work out ok. Light handed supervision of those on the inside is surprisingly effective in this environment made up of convicted criminals. Contrary to popular beliefs, they are human beings.
One should keep in mind that rarely are there perfect solutions. A reduction of the numbers of the homeless on the streets would be significant. Skyline is correct. The homeless have always been around. The difference is that, in the past, those who were homeless generally were that way by choice. There were opportunities that no longer exist.
Hopefully, UGM policies are created and can be modified by people and are not direct instructions from God.
BTW, thank you Brad Nanke and Sally Cook for your service.

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