By John Hubbuch
Marsha and I have just returned from Molly Ziegler's lovely wedding in Portland, Oregon. We had never been to the Rose City so we stayed over a couple of extra days and toured. Portland is a great city to walk. We walked the neighbor hoods and ate at a few of the great restaurants, went out to Washington Park and took a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge.
I give Portland a B+. It would have gotten an A except for the mutitudes of homeless people. I don't know much about homelessness, but the issue must present some serious policy conflicts. On the one hand it is clear that the City of Portland, and for that matter Oregon, is a very laid back ,humane place. Homeless people have a right to life, and that includes space. Non-conformity is a part of Portland's DNA. It is one of the reasons Portland is a cool place to live and visit.
On the other hand the large number of homeless certainly diminish the aesthetic of the place. Having large numbers of people sleeping in doorways and asking for money is not good for the tourist trade. Now for the most part, it's not a really big deal although I did hear one guy mumbling about needing to take his meds, or he was going to punch someone in the face. I turned the corner. In talking to the natives I got the impression that there was a predictable division of opinion about what to do with the homeless in Portland. There are many facets of the problem and no easy solutions. In some ways the presence of so many homeless forces the tourist to confront issues much more important than what bar has the best Happy Hour. And that may be a good thing.