Meli Lewis, a journalist with Reveal, published a look at homelessness in Portland that highlighted some key issues with Dan Ryan’s push for Safe Rest Villages. The reporting, which includes a 55-minute audio episode, focuses on the Lents Park area. Please note that there are discussions of suicide, police violence, and drug use. Lewis spent the past two years researching this piece. Here are a few highlights, but I encourage you to listen to the full episode or read the transcript:
- Lewis followed the experiences of Chris Van Hook, a 29-year-old man experiencing homelessness, who has been arrested 14 times in the last five years. Five of those arrests were for low-level misdemeanors (including ‘crimes’ that have since been decriminalized), but the other 11 arrests were for warrants related to his difficulties staying in contact with his probation officer and making it to his court dates. Volunteers providing meals in Lents Park provided substantial support for Van Hook, while official resources seemed focused on rearresting him.
- Dan Ryan and PPB Commander Erica Hurley spoke to the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (which is not the officially-recognized Lents neighborhood association but rather a nonprofit formed to push folks without housing out of the Lents neighborhood). It’s worth noting that Hurley’s comments at an October 2020 LNLA meeting violated elections law.
- Ryan’s comments specifically focused on the Safe Rest Villages he’s been pushing for as the city commissioner responsible for the Housing Bureau. During a LNLA meeting, he noted that due to a Ninth Circuit Court decision, if people refuse to stay at a Safe Rest Village, police will be able to remove them from a neighborhood: “Because once we build these villages, then we’ll have places to take people and then if they don’t want to go there, then law enforcement and others have an opportunity to actually do something to move them…”
On Twitter, Lewis noted that this reporting grew out of work she did while still at the Oregonian, including the initial scoop that the majority of police arrests in Portland in 2017 were of homeless people.
One last note: PDX Saints Love is the organization responsible for serving meals in Lents Park. The lead organizer, Kristle Delihanty, has a GoFundMe up to help cover costs for meals and other support. Consider making a donation if you’re in a position to do so.
The Multnomah County Auditor, Jennifer McGuirk, presented a redistricting map for the county on Friday. Based on the 2020 census, the new map shifts borders for the districts that elect each Multnomah County Commissioner (aside from the chair, who is elected by the county as a whole). The Multnomah County Commission will do a second reading of the new boundaries on January 6, 2022, and provided there are no concerns by that point, the new district boundaries will go into effect 30 days later. If you live in Multnomah County, make time to check out the redistricting map.
Three former Oregon secretaries of state published a guest column in the Oregonian over the weekend, discussing whether Nicholas Kristof is a resident of the state of Oregon. This question is kind of consuming Oregon Democrats right now, especially since Kristof voted in New York last year. Kristof hasn’t formally registered as a candidate for governor. When he does, though, the Elections Division of the Oregon Secretary of State’s office will rule on Kristof’s residency. No matter the ruling, someone will probably appeal and the matter will wind up on Shemia Fagan’s desk.
Jeanne Atkins, Bill Bradbury and Phil Keisling’s guest column pushes hard for accepting Kristof’s residency, though they note that none of the three past secretaries of state have endorsed a candidate for governor. Their argument is that voters can decide whether Kristof is a good candidate and that drawing too narrow of a definition of residency will hurt Oregon voters beyond Kristof.
Consider a person with a long-term illness who moves into a nursing home or a family member’s extra bedroom for an extended period or an Oregon-raised soldier who serves decades overseas or in other states. Someone experiencing homelessness, a migrant farmworker or a college student — all might “reside” in more than one location during the year.
Residency is required by the Oregon Constitution, not just to hold office, but also to vote. Thus, when we consider who is and is not a resident, we are talking not just about one candidate for governor. We are also talking about the right to participate in our democracy for many of our fellow Oregonians.
Jeanne Atkins, Bill Bradbury and Phil Keisling, “Opinion: Residency standard designed to support voter access, inclusion”