Re: Staff Writer Randy Billings’ article about the Bayside neighborhood hitting “rock bottom” (May 6):

The article paints a grim picture of Bayside, where innocent neighborhood residents are under constant attack by the “throngs” of individuals near the Oxford Street Shelter and the Preble Street Resource Center. I found this depiction not only dehumanizing of those struggling with homelessness and addiction, but also woefully lacking in any empathy.

We can all agree, I’m sure, that homelessness and drug abuse are reaching a crisis point, not just in this city, but also across the state and the country. But I was dismayed at the editor’s decision to run a piece that so transparently promotes fear and intolerance toward a population of Portland’s neediest, while simultaneously failing to address a productive discussion of the underlying issues.

The pictures of addicts, accompanied by speculation of what drugs are being used, are grossly dehumanizing. So, too, the photograph of a woman looking out the window of her townhouse encourages the reader to see civilized society as somehow antithetical to services for the needy.

For the Press Herald to publish an article of this nature, which focuses only on illicit and scandalous behavior, fails to recognize the tremendous work being done in Bayside for the homeless – work we should all be proud of.

Finally, the notion that Bayside is at “rock bottom” is simply false. The neighborhood is home to many new and prospering businesses, as well as an influx of wealthier residents.

Rebecca Watson


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