Portland outlaws panhandling in medians

PORTLAND – In 30 days, it will be illegal for anyone to loiter in the city’s street medians for any reason, including panhandling.

Supporters of the ordinance said it is needed to protect public safety — both for panhandlers and the traveling public. Panhandlers sometimes walk into the street and almost get hit by cars, and some drivers stop abruptly to give people money.

Dee Clarke, an advocate with Homeless Voices for Justice, said 30 homeless people died last year because of a lack of affordable housing, emergency shelters, detox beds and social services.

No one died from loitering in the medians, she said.

Clarke said the issue of medians is drawing attention because it puts poverty front and center, and makes people uncomfortable.

"The safety concerns don’t end in the medians," she said.

[Click to read full story on the Portland Press Herald website]