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December 03, 2019


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One solution (and there are many available) would be to allow camping in undeveloped city parks. If you check the city's web site and go to a map of the parks, you will find several undeveloped and vacant parks where the homeless could camp. The numbers at each site should be limited to prevent problems, and porta potties could provide sanitation needs. Don't allow camping on sidewalks and require campers to go to an assigned park to camp. It would take some time and effort to set up and manage this solution, but it would be cheaper and quicker than building apartments. Long term we are going to have to address mental health needs and our extreme wealth and income inequality which is crushing the working poor and the middle class, but this is a viable stop gap solution.

Mayhaps the City should have allowed campers to remain in Wallace Marine Park, Marion Park, and the area near Mission and Hawthorne. The symptoms of the fundamental problems that are not even being acknowledged could have festered for a longer time before action became necessary. Out of sight, out of mind. It is not coincidental that the 2 attorneys on Council pushed for these camps. The Boise decision made it clear that arresting the homeless when there were no available shelter beds was illegal. Even under the best of circumstances, this problem will get worse. Increasing available beds and subsidized housing units, as well as providing camps can only be expected to lessen the impact of a portion of the steadily worsening problem.
As long as the trend toward unaffordability continues, more people will not be able to keep a roof over their heads, as we have seen in so many other West Coast cities. As long as prisoners continue to be branded as felons after release and are essentially excluded from decent housing and jobs, they will be homeless and continue to tax law enforcement resources. As long as government remains committed to the theory that, as long as development is encouraged, sufficient operating funds will be available to provide needed services, there will be decisions made that overlook the fact that benefits of development inevitably reach a point of diminishing returns.
Things could be much worse. As Vonnegut said: "If this isn't nice, what is?"
If the current regime holds power, benefits will be cut in ways that will result in a social environment unlike anything America has seen since the Depression.

I'm going to call the city first thing in the morning and make them aware of the wide open spaces just off the end of Liberty Rd S.
I hear that some of the residents there have multiple cars, scooters, skateboards and other means of transportation they "probably" won't mind loaning out.
I just know that the home owners there are just BURNING to make Bernie proud!!!

Hey skyline, this is not an issue that welcomes your nonsense. Please limit your comments to support for the wannabee dictator. Love you.

"It's one thing if a homeless person chooses to camp out because they prefer this to being in a shelter. However, it's another thing if there aren't enough shelter beds available for every person who wants one."

How many is enough ?

"The more we can recognize the diversity of homeless people and appreciate that they are just like the rest of us, apart from not having a home.."

-- Most homeless people aren't like "us" precisely because they don't have a home. There are reasons like mental illness or drug issues, even criminality.

A smaller percentage of homeless are just down on their luck or actually prefer to be homeless for reasons other than mental illness or drugs.. I got to talking with a senior guy sitting in a park. His old truck with a camper shell was parked a short distance away. Turned out he was homeless except for the truck.. We hit it off pretty well and I offered him some money. He declined saying he had enough money and that he was living this way temporarily by choice until he decided what to do next. These types of homeless people do not sleep in tents on sidewalks or in doorways or crap on the street and leave their syringes around. That type is harder to help even if you build a ten story tenement to house them all.

Maybe the city could fund a simple heated warehouse with cots or sleeping pads and a bathroom for those who want to get out of the weather. Perhaps a vat of soup could be kept warm in a corner somewhere.

Well said, tucson. There are those who wish to live as nomads. These individuals place a (perhaps excessive) value on personal freedom. Along with others who resist attacks on their sense of dignity and consider unwanted evangelicalism to be rude and insulting, there will be those who will not fit in to the kind of help that cities like Salem offer.

Salem admirably enabled efforts to expand the amount and quality of warming shelters. This will alleviate a significant portion of the needless suffering that was created when campers were chased out of areas where they caused little harm and had been using for generations.

We should not delude ourselves into thinking that this problem will not get much worse or that current efforts will even keep up with the increasing numbers. Many people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads as living costs increase and living wage jobs remain unavailable to many. A recent closing at Norpac, in Salem, resulted in the loss of 1400 jobs. Food stamps will soon be taken away from many due to the recent federal action.

Many people will simply die as an indirect result of poverty and the widening of the gulf between the wealthy and the desperate. People will increasing look for ways to live in camps or in cars because animals try really hard to stay alive. Of course, more people will act in self destructive ways, but, for the most part, humans persevere.

I suspect that this country will continue on a path toward becoming third worldish. Areas of extreme poverty will increase. Homeless camps may simply be the precursor to what we see in countries where neighborhoods are made up of thrown together shacks. We may continue to be able to maintain water supplies, sanitary services, and disease control systems that are absent in many South American countries and other places like India, but the direction we are moving seems clear and the rate of that movement may be about to increase in a major way.

Salem will do what it can to prevent open displays of poverty. The government will continue to try to control anything that may harm real estate values or besmirch the tourist attracting image. That is all well and good, but I think that the city will be best served if they take a more realistic view of the problem and begin to establish organized communities suited to those who will not be able to keep up. This is not a pleasant solution, but it will probably be better than pretending that the problem will just go away or can be practically dealt with by law enforcement.

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