Breaking news: Living in the projects sucks

When even the kids at the Merc say that your version of "housing first" isn't working out as a solution to homelessness, you know you're screwing up. And that's clearly what they're saying in this story, about a joint called Argyle Gardens, a 21st Century version of "the projects" in far north Portland, up by Kenton Park.

In 2020, the Argyle Gardens apartment complex was lauded as a model for transitional housing. The 72-unit building in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood, opened by Transition Projects Inc. (TPI), contains a mix of efficiency studios and single-room occupancy (SRO) units, all meant to house and support very low-income residents, and those moving out of homeless shelters. The site cost just under $12 million to build, almost entirely with public funding and tax credits.

Three years later, tenants report filthy conditions, assault, rampant theft, squatters, and unresponsive management that has led at least one resident to flee for safety, while others have gone back to homeless shelter.

Given that Argyle Gardens is a kind of prototype for the "affordable housing" that the politicians are so hot to slap up in Oregon, it's worth reading the whole Merc story. It's a shocking moment of candor for that publication. Maybe they've sent some of their prejudices elsewhere.

Anyway, if you think housing projects are going to alleviate the abject misery on Portland's streets, you're nuts. The main problem on the streets is hard drugs, which are for all intents and purposes legal now. Some of the people in the tents became drug addicts first and then homeless. Others were homeless first, then addicts. But it doesn't matter now whether the chicken came first or the egg; because of their addiction, they're not ready for housing.

People who are hooked on drugs need to be given the choice between rehab or jail. And since opioids are the drug of choice these days, and their relapse rate is so high even among those who undergo treatment, it's not clear that rehab is worth the money. But replicating the Argyle horror show all over town, telling the junkies that their rent is basically free and treatment is up to them, definitely isn't the answer.

As long as dealers can sell drugs on the street with impunity, there's no way to solve the addiction crisis. For the sake of its own survival, at some point a community needs to start hassling everybody involved in the trade, on a constant basis, especially the dealers but also the users. If you don't have the good sense and fortitude to do that, then at the very least, stop enabling the behavior with misguided "harm reduction" and bringing every junkie in the country here for the ease of getting high all day.


  1. The idea that some non-profit is going to be able to completely managed the lives of the woefully addicted and mentally ill is such a fantasy that it's hard to fathom even the dopes running things around believe it.

  2. It's a dirty little dance they do in these parts called "The Wapato." It's when you have almost endless money and energy to build a project and hold a ribbon cutting, but never enough for the nitty gritty of actually operating the project.

  3. Maybe they should change the name from Argyle Gardens to something that doesn't thrive with manure. Kidding aside, how many more of these do we need to build to find out were letting the patients run the asylum?

  4. A group of fools created the legal conditions that showed drug dealers how to prosper with impunity. Guess what needs to be corrected first.

  5. More money shoveled to the Portland non-profit homeless services industrial complex. And of course, it’s another failed project.

  6. Fools chose to end the "War on Drugs," calling it inhumane and racist. Tolerating drugs is FAR, FAR more inhumane... and racist. It's time to bring back the "War on Drugs," using modern technology & techniques.

    1. Or just have the guts to take the Darwinian route and stop administering Narcan.

      Maybe the best "Just Say No" ad is corpses on our sidewalks.


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