Homeless people and advocates will are sitting out all day today to raise awareness of homelessness — and make the point that even in the warmer months, it’s tough.
Judy Newell is an advocate with Homeless Voices for Justice; she says homelessness is a growing problem in Portland — mostly thanks to the property boom going on in the city now. She says especially for older people and people with disabilities who get housing assistance, it’s difficult; but she says finding a new place to live is hard for everyone right now.
“We’ve got about zero percent availability right now in the city of Portland, so even if you do have a certain amount of money, you can’t, you just can’t find a place.” Newell says. “The biggest problem is with the massive evictions going on, where people are buying properties, throwing everyone out, then raising the rents so nobody can get back in, so we’re looking at all these extra people that we didn’t have room to begin with, now we have all these extra people that don’t deserve to be homeless they’ve been paying the rent all this time, so that’s one of the big changes where we’re seeing people who were homeless are now taking to the woods. It’s just rough.”
She says advocates are looking for an increase in tenants’ rights in the city — including an end to “no cause” evictions; and some form of rent control.
According to the city of Portland, an average of 422 people per night spent the night in city shelters in May. And Newell says many people who are homeless choose for various reasons not to use shelters.