The Projects

We had your average murderous weekend in Portland. On Sunday at 10 a.m.(!) a guy was shot dead in what used to be known as an "adult bookstore" on Foster Road in the low 50s. But even more depressing was a fatal shooting overnight Friday night in an apartment complex on Killingsworth in the Cully neighborhood.

What makes the latter homicide particularly sad was the location: Las Adelitas. That's the "affordable" apartment building that was built on the site of an old strip club where crime after crime had been committed for many years. The neighborhood finally forced the gangster joint out, and up went the shiny new buidling where people without resources could get a foothold in the world. It just opened in December.

The killing points up something that Portlanders should keep in mind as state and local government rushes to slap up more of these buildings everywhere it can find space. Government-subsidized "affordable" housing projects are usually not such happy places. Especially if they are "low-barrier," meaning that drug addicts can continue to use in them, and pimps can do business in them, to their hearts' content.

I grew up half a block from one of "the Projects" in Newark, New Jersey, and the lesson we learned as kids in the '60s was not to go in there, ever. Part of our parents' motivation in this regard was racial animus, but the main moving force was justified fear. Bad stuff happened in the Projects, and everybody knew it. Eventually the city housing authority wised up and tore a lot of them down.

Portland is now where Newark was in the late 1930's. Especially in terms of crime and poverty, but even worse in terms of drug addiction. "Housing first" was Newark's answer, and that of a lot of other cities. It didn't really "work" then, but it bought society a few decades of relative peace. Eventually, though, a lot of "the Projects" were doing more harm than good, and the movement began to close them. 

The Projects in Newark probably had about 10 good years. The Portland cycle may be quite a bit shorter. You hope not, but around here now, hope isn't worth much.


  1. The good intentions of the activists is fertile ground for the weasels.

  2. Another no suspect shooting. The new city slogan should be, "But hey, at least we're not Baltimore..."

    1. Yet this past weekend two shootings in Washington County with suspects caught in first shooting of teens and a mug shot of suspect in second shooting. Washington County gets right in investigating and charging whereas Portland remains the “Schmidt Show”

    2. This one was allegedly a wife shooting her husband in the head and claiming it was an accident. You wonder how many guns are in that building.


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