Montavillans Against Homeless Sweeps Ban
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We are a group of concerned citizens in the Montavilla Neighborhood Community. It has come to our attention that the Montavilla Neighborhood Association board recently issued a resolution asking the Portland Police Department to ban all homeless encampment sweeps in the Montavilla neighborhood. After speaking with many neighbors, it has become clear that this is not a decision that was reached via neighborhood consensus or after proper neighborhood involvement. This letter is to formally register our disagreement with the Montavilla Neighborhood Association’s resolution.
We believe that the homeless crisis in Portland deserves more attention, more compassion, and better solutions to help this displaced population. We are all concerned when people in our neighborhood are without food and shelter. Simultaneously, we believe that others in this community must be considered. We cannot support resolutions that unilaterally seek to end all sweeps under any circumstances in our beloved neighborhood.
In addition to the experiences of neighbors living near encampments in Montavilla, we have witnessed sister neighborhoods struggle with theft, trespassing, destruction of property, violent crime, illicit drug dealing, and sanitation problems as a direct result of large encampments existing over long periods of time. Many of us, particularly those who have invested in the neighborhood via the purchase of homes and businesses, are concerned about not only the safety of our citizens, but also the long term effects this resolution may have on our schools and property values.
Sweeps were not created to fix the homeless problem. They were created to solve issues of public nuisance, health and safety. There are solutions to homelessness other than decreasing police presence in an area, which is the only thing that eliminating sweeps will accomplish. We are concerned that this would not simply add to the issues we would be facing; it would exponentially increase these problems.
Homelessness is a complex issue, and while we appreciate the hard work and volunteerism of our neighborhood association, we do not accept that a handful of individuals on a board are qualified to decide what the answer to this problem is on behalf of an entire community, especially when that “solution” has not been properly communicated, vetted and blessed by the very constituents it impacts. There are solutions other countries, especially ones in Northern Europe, have developed that didn’t involve transferring the problem to unsuspecting communities. We welcome a dialogue with the Montavilla Neighborhood Association Board in which the entire neighborhood can be properly represented and heard on this issue.
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