Homelessness is not a crime. What about cluelessness?

It doesn't surprise me in the least that the voters of Portland have voted to throw billions of dollars at the city's stunning homeless problem while the local government has no idea what to do with all that money. WW has the story here.

Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran pointedly criticized Portland-area leaders for inaction on homelessness, saying “we don’t have a plan or even a kernel of a plan” for spending billions of taxpayer dollars to get unhoused people into stable shelter.

Meieran, an emergency room doctor, is particularly frustrated by city and county officials’ plans for spending the $2.5 billion bond measure Metro-area voters approved last May to provide services to houseless people.

“We have more resources available now than ever before,” Meieran told WW on April 21. “But we have what I consider to be a humanitarian crisis, and I feel there have been public health and public safety elements of that, and that we have not effectively addressed those.”

No kidding. The people in charge of the response to this crisis, particularly Multnomah County Commission Chair (Insert First Name Here) Kafoury (pictured), seem to equate piling up money to throw around with success. Last week they were strutting around the county building, crowing about how their budget was bigger than ever, as if that were the ultimate accomplishment.

I'm not sure what Kafoury, and the voters, think is going to happen with the thousands of people now living in tents all over Portland. It seems like the government bobblehead vision is to give everybody who wants one a nice little apartment somewhere, paid for by the taxpayers.

That isn't going to happen. So what is? Nobody seems to have a clue. All we know is that whatever it is, it will be expensive. And the usual weasels will make money off it.

One other thing's for sure: Portland is never coming back until it is no longer okay to pitch a tent on the sidewalk, in a park, or on the roadside. Making that the new normal was a big mistake that will take decades to correct.

Ultimately, the answer will have to include more institutional shelters, more drug treatment, more mental health treatment, and yes, more jail space and more police (by whatever name). I don't know if or when Portland will be ready to face that reality – probably after my time. But until then, watch where you're wandering, and be careful where you're stepping, in this extraordinarily mismanaged town.


  1. So, we have one elected Metro politician, who is supposed to be in charge of solving problems, telling us there is no plan in place to solve this problem. Meanwhile, another elected Metro politician, putting the cart before the horse, pronounces: "“Results speak for themselves. Our community will see the benefit of these investments almost immediately with nearly 1,300 people gaining housing in the next year...." Clearly, there is nothing to see here folks. Just pay your taxes and don't look behind the curtain.

    1. Correction. Sorry. Both elected Multnomah County politicians. Too many layers of useless government to keep track of.


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