I am angry this morning. The response of Portland city officials to the homeless gathering in Deering Oaks continues a trend of dropping the ball when it comes to social justice. Rather than responding with compassion and resources for these individuals who are doing their best to survive in a pandemic, the city threatens one of their most basic needs: food.

Portland has consistently attempted to push homeless people off Oxford Street. Now that they have achieved this goal given Preble Street’s closing the soup kitchen, the city is threatening the nonprofit’s ability to directly deliver meals, stating that the agency cannot continue to provide food on city property without a license.

Essentially, in creating substantial barriers to food access, the city is placing a higher value on forcing people out of Bayside than in ensuring that every human has access to basic needs. By continually slamming the doors to valuable resources in the faces of the people in greatest need in our community, Portland officials hope that the problem of homelessness will become invisible.

I have a better solution. If the city is really so offended by people living on the streets, why doesn’t it prioritize funding to house this community?

Portland can continue to push homeless people aside, but their plight will continue to worsen without significant structural change.

Hannah Vilas


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