Target: Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland, Oregon
Goal: Stop enforcing law that persecutes homeless people and marshal city resources to build and improve shelters
Homelessness is a problem that major cities across the United States struggle to solve. There are still over 600,000 people regularly without a home in the United States. Though 2013 saw a slight reduction in the number of homeless persons, many are still suffering the effects of the 2008 recession and the country’s slow recovery from it.
Unfortunately, the recovery is not universal. Portland, Oregon saw a 10% increase in homeless persons last year. Now, with almost 1,900 people homeless, citizens of Portland have protested the city’s unfair laws which persecute homeless people.
In Portland it is illegal to “camp” on public property. The very idea that homeless people are camping is offensive as camping implies some choice in the matter. In practice, the law criminalizes homelessness and makes it harder to escape homelessness due to imposed fines, which enables a cycle of poverty.
Instead of criminalizing homelessness, the mayor and his administration should be working to help them. There is inadequate support from the city and the state for the homeless populations. Shelters do not have adequate funding and there are not enough of them.
Mayor Charlie Hales should immediately cease enforcement of the law that criminalizes homelessness and should begin putting city resources towards better supporting the disadvantaged and downtrodden. If they lack funds to build and improve shelters, Portland should petition the state for money. Urge the mayor to take these actions.
Dear Mayor Charlie Hales,
Portland’s law that bans camping on public property unfairly persecutes homeless persons. Your citizens have spoken out against the law because, in practice, it criminalizes homelessness. A homeless person does not choose to sleep outside and thus is not camping. By arresting homeless people, your police force exacerbates their plight and wastes time and taxpayer dollars in the process.
Those taxpayer dollars should be invested in alleviating the struggles of the homeless. I urge you to invest city funds in building and improving shelters. If the city is low on funds, request them from the state. Your citizens want this change and the people need it as Portland’s homeless population increased by 10% last year.
No one deserves to be arrested for struggling to survive. Stop harassing homeless people and starting protecting them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: The Blackbird (Jay Black) via Wikimedia Commons