Homelessness in Portland, Oregon is a problem for which there is no simple solution. Portland is one of the most populous cities in the state of Oregon, having an estimated population of over six hundred thousand people (as at 2015). It ranks as about the twenty-sixth most populous city in the United States. There are approximately 2.3 million people living in the Portland metropolitan statistical area, making it the twenty-third most populated metropolitan area in United States. Portland homelessness is an issue that needs to be addressed more effectively.
Of this population, thousands of men, women and children go to bed each night outside, without shelter, where they are vulnerable to assault, weather, addiction, and exploitation. At the simplest level, it is believed that people should have a warm, dry and decent place to sleep, have access to services they need and access to security so as to keep everyone safe and comfortable. Some homeless individuals might be experiencing a financial crisis and as such have been evicted from their home. Many homeless individuals will agree that sleeping outside without shelter can be a frightening prospect.
In order to ensure the safety of lives and properties and to help eliminate the sufferings of these people, more shelter beds should be provided. It just does not seem good or humane to look away while thousands of men, women and children sleep in Portland’s public areas and parks. A lot more needs to be done, and actions taken immediately to create more shelter beds for homeless individuals to sleep at. Portland should have more shelters, more services for people in need of them, and better laws should be enforced to help put an end to dangerous and illegal behavior.
In view of all this, it is one thing to sleep every night in agony and discomfort, and another thing entirely to face trial for it. It is not kind and quite inconsiderate that homeless people should be charged with crimes for sleeping in public, since their government did not provide enough housing through creation of more shelter bed for their camping. Portland homelessness can at least be partially addressed through more shelter beds.
The criminalization of homeless people is not a good public policy for a lot of reasons. The implementation of policies and laws that punish homeless individuals rather than addressing the main problem causing homelessness is not an effective approach to solving the problem.
Punishing individuals who engage in innocent behavior such as sitting on the sidewalk, sleeping in public, or begging, will not in any way reduce the occurrence of such activities or keep homeless individuals out of public areas when they have no other place to sit or sleep and no other means of sustainability.
With lack of resources for shelter and services for these homeless individuals, imposing penalty for activities which they obviously cannot avoid is not only futile, it is inhumane. This provides neither a long-term or short-term benefit for homeless people nor does it give any form of lasting solution to the conflicts over public places. Moreover, it costs significantly more money because government will be paying for more police time and resources. Besides, after much analysis, it was found that the cost of jailing people is substantially higher than what it will cost to provide them with shelter combined with other necessary services they will need. More shelter beds should be offered to help remedy the problem of Portland homelessness.