Are We Doing Enough to Help the Homeless? (by Maleka Blake)

Introduction and Research Question

Processed with VSCOcamMy research question is: Is our community doing enough to help the homeless? This term my focus was on family services and resource scarcity. When I signed up to take this writing course I had no idea it was a community-based learning class. When I learned that we would be doing volunteer work and using that as a source for our writing I was very excited. I have wanted to get back into volunteer work and love writing; so it was a win-win. I have experienced homelessness and understand how it can be very difficult to get out of for some. Volunteering at the Blanchet House, there were a lot of homeless people who were sweet, kind, and respectful towards me. It made me feel good and happy to know that they manage to still see the good in things even through the struggle. I want to have an organization some day that helps the homeless community. I believe that there are very good organizations such as Blanchet House and the Union Gospel Mission; however, our community can also do more to help.

Research Collection

I was able to find some interesting articles on Homelessness in Portland, Oregon:

  1. “The City of Portland, Oregon.” Housing Blog RSS. N.p., 28 May 2014.

I found this article on the Portland Bureau Housing Blog. This year there was $3.85 million awarded to nonprofit organizations, $2.4 million towards helping first time homebuyers, and $1.45 million to help homeowners keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. With the baby boomers generation going into retirement, there has been a lot of pressure on the United States to find affordable housing, work opportunities, and funds to help lower-income families. There are a lot of jobs available; but, not enough young people with the credentials to fill those openings. Houses are going back on the market with not enough people who can afford to purchase them. For people that can buy a house, due to high mortgages, unstable work, and even job cuts it makes it difficult for them to continue making house payments every month. This often leads to homes going into foreclosure.

With people not being able to get affordable housing it can lead to them becoming homeless or just moving around from place to place. The huge donations that nonprofit organizations receive will help many homeless people have more opportunities for things such as Section 8 and signing up with Home Forward. I am on the waitlist for a few different housing locations through Home Forward. Being on the waiting list as 1,000+ in line, I can understand the desperation some might feel to need help. Luckily, I am able to live with family. The grant money will also help less people go into foreclosure and provide stable living.

 

  1. Korn, Peter. “Right 2 Dream Too Stares down Threat.” com. Pamplin Media

Group, 20 Dec. 2012. <http://pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/125230-right-2-dream-too-stares-down-threat&gt;.

               Right 2 Dream Too is a small homeless community located in Downtown Portland. It has been a debate to have this shut down for good or relocated. One of the issues people speak of is it being bad for business. David Gold is the property owner and says he will cancel his business proposal to build an international youth hostel in that area if Right 2 Dream Too is still there. He says that he does not want the restaurant of the hostel facing towards the homeless community and that it may make a bad image on Portland and be bad for tourism. The “Portland Development Commission has already committed more than $2 million [in the project]…and $2.64 million in loans to help Gold develop the property.” The PDC is business oriented and chose to spend money on the development of a youth hostel with the idea that we would be making even more in commissions. I believe our community focuses too much on money.

               From what I have observed walking passed Right 2 Dream Too it does not seem dirty, dysfunctional, and I definitely do not feel it puts a bad image in our community. I feel that these homeless people have made the smart decision to come together to form their own place for living, peer support, and comfort. I also feel that our society chooses to care about how much money can be made and how fast rather than the quality of life for every individual. Right 2 Dream Too is doing something positive for our community and it would be a shame to have it shut down (if not relocated) simply to make more money.

 

  1. Abraham, Leah. “Story of Hope: Anna.” Union Gospel Mission. N.p., 29 July 2014. <http://www.ugmportland.org/2014/07/story-of-hope-anna/&gt;.

This is a touching story about a young woman’s experience being homeless and how the UGM helped her. A George Fox University student created a blog sharing different stories of homeless people she interviewed and wanted to share their stories. Anna is a 19 year old girl who decided to become a resident at the women LifeChange center and go through recovery after dealing with far too much in life. She had a “pot, cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, meth, prescription pills, booze [addiction]; [which,] lead to cutting, depression, suicidal attempts… the list went on.” She goes into detail about her childhood. Her mother was an abusive, drug addict, who tried to raise Anna the best she could. However, Anna was eventually placed into foster care, where her addictions began. Anna goes on to explain how her mother became a recovering addict by joining the LifeChange center; which, motivated Anna to do the same. At the end of sharing her story Anna says, ““I know this [Women’s LifeChange Center] is where God wants me to be. It’s a safe place; it’s really good for me. God’s been really good to me. If it wasn’t for him; I would probably be dead.” It is because of amazing organizations such as UGM that some homeless people have a second chance at life. Reading more of the stories has inspired me to sign up for volunteer work at UGM; hopefully more people will do the same.

Public Writing

There’s Still Hope in Helping the Homeless: We Have to Come Together as a Community to see Change

Blog Link: http://hopeforhomelessness.blogspot.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CPbMFfVfbA “Portland expands homeless sidewalk crackdown”

“If you have no place to go, you can always leave Portland.” If only it were that simple. I find it very discouraging that people in our community see homeless people as a problem. It is not the people, it is our system. Yes, there are some who might have made the wrong decisions and that is how they ended up on the streets; however, there are more people who simply cannot afford housing and other everyday needs.

Ibrahim Mubarak is the co-founder of Dignity Village (which was shut down awhile ago) and is now a spokesperson for the homeless. There was a woman, Lisa Larson, who said Dignity Village “rescued her from living on the streets, and cold, wet nights under Portland-area overpasses. The nights, born from desperation, where she broke into abandoned homes to rest. Nights that led to her criminal record.” This small community that was created for the homeless helped her! Now how will it help others if it has been closed? In 2011, another community was built in downtown Portland called Right 2 Dream Too. Now, there is a debate about whether this should be closed. I have been out, enjoying my night and walk passed this. I understand the smell, the look of it being “dirty,” but I also understand this is a home to some people. I respect that it is somewhere they can come to safely at night and rest. Everyone deserves that. I even respect that they are trying to come together to get off the streets.

So why is it that lawmakers, tourists, citizens of Portland have such strong animosity towards little communities such as Dignity Village and a Right 2 Dream Too? In the video, Ibrahim Mubarak says because of Right 2 Dream Too, after one year of being there, 30 people got housing and 27 people found work without any help! This is amazing! Yet, we want to shut this down. The police man who told the homeless man he could leave Portland if he had nowhere to go was a little ignorant in saying this. We shut down communities of homeless people trying to help themselves and then wonder why so many are panhandling and struggling downtown. This is ridiculous. Businesses are so worried about the affect panhandling has on tourism and overall money flow. Then why not support homeless people who build communities AWAY from businesses and are trying to improve. We should not see homeless people as a burden. I define society and community as a network of people that come together for the common good to support each other. We are too separated by class, gender roles, racial background, etc. I believe that if we see each other as equals, build relationships in positive ways, develop a system that encourages growth and development in every individual then and only then will our society thrive.

Facts found from online article : Theen, Andrew. “Dignity Village: Residents Fight ‘complacency’ as Right 2 Dream Too Captures Portland’s Attention.” OregonLive.com. N.p., 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.

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