PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the latest chapter of a book that doesn’t seem to have a satisfying resolution, business and community leaders are once again coming together to say they are tired of feeling unsafe in Portland.
Dozens of people have said the theft, vandalism and drug use are pushing them to their breaking point and part of this discontent is a perception the city isn’t doing enough.
KOIN 6 has reported in the past couple of weeks about rising burglaries in the city.
Thursday, we heard people tell stories of break-ins, but also being threatened with weapons outside of their own businesses and sometimes even their homes.
The frustration comes from the fact that these people know where the problems are, if not at their business, they are at camps of tents or cars where they see drug deals and drug use occur frequently.
“This is cruelty in the name of compassion, this is an intolerable situation created out of the name of tolerance,” said Drew Layda, a portland resident.
“I lived here most of my life, I’ve never seen things so bad,” said Christy, a Woodstock business owner. “I’ve owned this business for 22 years, I want to stay in business, I want our community back, I want the whole city back.”
In response to this press conference, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office pointed to the hiring of 70 PPB officers, increasing funding for business repair grants, and expanding tree lighting across the city to deter crime. The Office also highlights the creation of a Behavioral Health Emergency Coordination Network with the county and says assessments of cleanups of campsites. The city’s data shows, through surveys with outreach workers of 800 homeless individuals, 80 percent refuse a shelter when offered, but 7 out of 10 would accept a location to camp outside with access to services.
“The City is being proactive in working to address the concerns voiced by community members today. Every Portlander deserves to feel safe and supported.” Wheeler told KOIN 6 in a statement.
To start Thursday’s meeting, Todd called the Director of Community Safety Stephanie Howard. They invited Howard nine days ago to attend. Howard said she couldn’t.
“How is anything you’re doing right now more important than this?” asked Angela Todd, from PDX Real. “I don’t understand.”
“We are paying for your jobs and you don’t have the respect to come listen to these community members,” said Todd. “It disgusts me.”
KOIN 6 was told by the mayor’s office that Howard wasn’t available for interviews Thursday. Wheeler is at the U.S Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C this week where his office says he is a featured speaker in a session on behavioral and mental health and will also sit on a panel about mental health, addiction and homelessness.