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MHAPortland

Always hilarious to read architectural responses to 'homelessness.' But only when intentionally misunderstood it becomes a 'wicked problem.'

Standing alone, chronic homelessness is something of a misleading idea. It is well documented chronic homelessness is, for the most part, a direct result of untreated addiction and mental illness. Because we as a nation, state, county and city have intentionally and purposefully unfunded the well-understood bio-socio-psycho-spiritual solutions to these complex illnesses, homelessness is a predictable symptom. Leadership, science and bureaucracy have failed us.

Your essay, as the advocacy of many who are engaged in the property development industry, forgets most chronically homeless persons have these untreated illnesses. You're not alone. The Bud Clark Commons, yes a nice building, soaked up years worth of money for 150+ people, for whom there is no indication the underlying cause is resolved. The facility is only arguably necessary within the context of a non-functioning treatment system. Within the context of no context.

Saying architecture is a solution for homelessness is like saying football makes UO a better school. It misunderstands the subject, misdirects money from a solution, and rewards the wrong.

Love your site. I am a routine visitor. I learn something with every read.

J Renaud

Yojoslin

It's been a stunning shift for me to move from Portland to San Francisco, the latter being a place where the street presence of the homeless is much more present and diffuse. There are two things that are quite different here.

There's generally a higher tolerance for the "unsightliness" of itinerants. It's more understood and accepted here that it's symptomatic of a human failure, not a bureaucratic one. That's helped keep the issue under constant discussion, with remedies actively and publicly supported.

Funding for real remedies continues to amplify here, including mandatory provision of affordable housing (whether off-site or on) for nearly all residential projects. While Oregon's statutes preclude this as a mandatory requirement, there are other related mechanisms that could be developed, were the culture more inclined to consciously and effectively begin to address this inscrutable problem.

But it begins with acknowledgement and empathy. Your article contributes to forwarding those critical attributes.

Jeff Joslin
Director of Current Planning
San Francisco

Moore Michael M

I think it has been a long time since Portland has been particularly progressive on the issue of housing and homelessness, regardless of where the military or VA is. Bud Clark Commons is supposed to be a cornerstone of Portland's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, a plan that we are now seven years into. The fact that the situation has only deteriorated in those seven years is evidence enough of that plan's false ideals. Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, etc, will not end homelessness. But the problem is not so wicked as you make out. Decades of cuts to affordable housing have created the problem, for the benefit of the banks and other financial institutions that control our economy and government policy. (And, no doubt, to the benefit of some of the architects who advertise on your site.) The solutions to homelessness is really rather simple: Housing. Commissioner Fritz noted at the recent housing summit at the First Methodist Church that the U.K., with roughly the land mass of Oregon and about 10x the population, has roughly 1,200 people sleeping outside on any night -- less than sleep outside just in Portland. To pretend that an award-winning, LEED-certified $50 million resource center, whatever is merits, is going to provide solutions when the funding for the real solution simply isn't there is anything but "progressive." It is certainly an opportunity for a lot of well-meaning people to pat themselves on the back for doing something.

Right 2 Dream Too, on the other hand, is a genuine emergency response organized by the people most affected by the crisis. It is the kind of response any city that is genuinely progressive will need to embrace as both affordable and more humane than chasing people out of doorways and parks. Better design could certainly help -- initially, those of us working on R2DToo worked with architect Mark Lakeman on some concepts, but the city's aggressive, greedy response to the site has made it impossible for us to gather the resources we would need to execute those concepts. Personally, I take exception to the notion that R2DToo is "embarrassing," at least when compared to the embarrassment we should all feel at the way our city council, our police force, and the private security the city contracts with treats the poorest residents of our city, to the detriment of their health, well-being, personal safety and lifespan. The real embarrassment is that we continue to pretend we will end this problem through a confusing and ineffective series of programs and plans that don't actually provide the one essential resource necessary to solve the problem. Meanwhile, the people R2DToo turns away every night for lack of space are denied even the most basic essential need of a good night's sleep.

Michael Moore
Health Advocate
Sisters Of The Road

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