By Peter Keller | CNA Chair
It’s mid-February as I write this, and we’ve just come to the end of a long, snowy weekend and possibly winter’s last gasp. When we get these occasional big snow storms, we’re fortunate to live on one of the best hills in our corner of Concordia for sledding.
Every year we watch the neighbors with their various sleds, tubes, cardboard boxes, etc. as they slide down the hill. While I was covering some of my plants to protect them from freezing rain, I decided to try to use one of the bottoms of the plastic planters as a makeshift saucer.
It didn’t work, but one of our neighbors ran up with a saucer for me to borrow. It was a perfect day for it, and I felt like I was a kid for those two rides down the hill. I love how the snow puts everyone in a great mood, and you see the best in people.
The next morning the power went out and stayed out for more than 24 hours. This is not uncommon when we have these ice storms, and fortunately this wasn’t too bad, but living without power for 24 hours or more helps you empathize with how hard it must be to be houseless – especially in the cold.
We have thousands of people currently living outside in Portland as we all know. Comparatively, the inconvenience of a power outage is nothing.
In 2007, the city declared it would put an end to homelessness but, despite all the good work and money going into the effort, the crisis may get a lot worse especially with looming evictions in June.
On the Feb. 16 broadcast of OPB’s “Think Outloud,” Lisa Bates, of Portland State University’s Homeless Research and Action Collaborative, said 89,000 households in Oregon are behind in their rent. Of those households, they predict 25-62% could be evicted in June. Of these households, over 90% have suffered unemployment due to the pandemic, 50% are households with children and 40% are BIPOC households.
These statistics are alarming, and I cannot do the topic justice in this short column, but we do want to start a dialogue with the neighborhood.
At the upcoming CNA general meeting we will have Jonathan Lewis, program coordinator for the city of Portland’s Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program, on hand to make a presentation.
He will speak to the program’s mission, vision and strategic plan – as well as expanded hygiene access, outdoor emergency shelters and the Shelter to Housing Continuum project.
Please join us for the presentation and Q&A at 7 p.m. on March 3. Details on how to join the virtual meeting are at ConcordiaPDX.org/CNAMeetings.
Native Portlander Peter Keller has lived in Concordia since 1997. He runs a small marketing agency with partner Max, out of their home studio. He loves exploring outdoors with and without his dogs.