Your article titled “Bayside at rock bottom: Portland neighborhood is under siege” (May 6) is one of the most offensive and ineffective calls to action that I’ve encountered. Staff Writer Randy Billings, the article’s author, spends much of his time languishing in testimony, blame and hearsay.

Most troubling is the attack not only on the homeless but also on the few concrete resources that the population uses. Proposing a move of the Oxford Street Shelter or Preble Street is all well and good, but who among the privileged is willing to aid? Who among the privileged will see the disenfranchised as worthy of kindness? Where would these resources go when so little space remains? The article takes a tone of blame and offers little in the way of concrete solutions.

As someone who faced the precipice of homelessness and had loved ones who could shoulder his burden with him, I feel this article lacks anything resembling empathy. It’s terrifying to think that so many people take issue with those in peril but offer nothing more than poisonous vitriol and useless slander.

To those who would consider the low-barrier systems and strained resources of Portland to be more of a burden than a benefit, I would ask these questions: What if you lost it all and had nowhere to turn? What if your life was so traumatic that just to awaken to dawn’s light was pain? What if your next meal was uncertain? What if your neighbors put you no higher than common vermin?

It’s a shame, really. I never thought that this was the way life should be.

Zachary Goater


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