PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With Portland facing so many challenges ranging from homelessness, protests and riots, rising gun violence, coronavirus and the resulting economic impacts, we wanted to hear from residents about what they think are the main issues facing the city.
Note: Some answers were edited for length and clarity.
What do you think the main issues are that the city is facing right now?
“Of the marginalized population being really affected by this time and being neglected by city too and I think there’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure that these folks have their needs met and taken care of because we’re all in this together. It’s easy to dismiss those folks as just basically choosing to be where they are when in reality they’re the victims of a messed up system right now. So, making sure those folks are taken care of I think are my biggest concerns right now.”
–Frank, works in downtown Portland
“Some of the biggest issues here are of course red lining of BIPOC communities, unequal distribution of wealth, houselessness crisis, and I would like to add that there is a thriving group of organizers in this community who engage with our elected officials on a very regular basis and have presented solutions to them and all they need to do is listen to frontline communities and actually take action to protect the people who live here and who are being harmed by this system. Looking at you Ted Wheeler!”
–Alesha, Portland-based political organizer
“I think the biggest issue right now is homelessness and affordable housing right now. And there’s a lot of mental health issues going on now due to the COVID virus that need to be addressed.”
–Betty, from Portland’s Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood
“Mostly the pandemic, you know, just how we handle it, and so far, I think it has been handled very well. So, that’s the biggest thing – getting through it and then there’s millions, well probably not millions, but hundreds of little things that have happened during the pandemic that will be written about later about mistakes that were made, things that should have been done, and this is all human things in a very rare circumstance.”
–Charles Gillies, downtown Porltand
“It used to be that I saw more people willing to help out, maybe give some spare change, etc. Now they’re very aggressive, the homeless are. And it makes me not want to assist them. Because I know I’m in a rehabilitation program and I get plenty of help and I know there’s lots of help out there. It just seems that some don’t care. And I have no idea how to reach those type of people […].
And I hear a lot about the police issues that are going on. I don’t necessarily say it’s always the polices’ fault. I think they’re getting a bad reputation for a horrible job that they have to do. And I wouldn’t want to do it. And so I commend them for doing what they do. But they seem to get very little respect. And I see the people that we supposedly voted for don’t want to seem to listen to whatever we have to say. That they just want to express their own opinions and their own beliefs. And that’s not why we voted them into office. And it’s not helping.”
–Brett Gongliewski, from Aloha, Ore.
“I think some of Portland’s greatest issues right now are realistically and openly addressing its issues around race. This is not Chicago. This is not Miami. This is not LA. The issues of race here are deeply rooted in an apartheid. The only other apartheid state than South Africa and Israel that had a constitution that kept human beings out of here, couldn’t own land, couldn’t prosper, couldn’t build wealth, and there’s also no slavery here as a history. So, there’s a different kind of cultural juxtaposition and position that you have to take here in order to address that.”
–Eddie B. Hill, Portland-based urban planner and non-profit organizer
“Well the obvious one has been the homeless situation. That’s gotten worse, but I think in downtown it stayed the same. Maybe got a little worse. Outside of downtown it got worse. But the biggest issue is just small businesses not being able to operate the same way they did before. They can’t make money. I was in a restaurant with my wife on our anniversary. And I asked them what their capacity is. It was like 25% at that time. That wasn’t even paying for the payroll and the rents and the cost of goods. So that’s the biggest issue to me, is the restaurant owners and the business owners not being able to run their businesses. ‘Cause that’s people’s livelihoods.”
–Vlad Cherchenko, from Vancouver, Wash.
“We could also talk about transportation, you know, the lack of access in public transportation for people that don’t have cars, you know? Especially out in the east side that has always been an issue. So, if people have to pay, if people can’t afford living in the city of Portland you have to go outside, but then if you go outside, there’s not enough public transportation for people to come into the city and actually like, you know, do their daily lives, go to their work, do their chores.”
–Hector Manuel Jr. Osuna Mondragon, has worked in education in Portland
“ I work in housing. I’m a social worker and yeah, I mean housing affordability. I’ve been here for five years, but I’ve seen the cost just consistently go up, probably like a lot of other places across the country, but that’s a huge issue for the people I work with along with public transit like on the east side. I am out farther in eastern Multnomah County and it is a huge struggle for people to get to work or get to the grocery store just because of all the things they’re lacking out there.”
–Laura Selvy, Portland social worker