If you were a visitor from away, reading the Portland Press Herald last week, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the poor were massing for the attack, particularly in the vicinity of Bayside.

First was the article about the Bayside Neighborhood Association asking the City Council for a temporary moratorium on homeless shelters in Bayside (April 12). Then, the president and vice president of the Maine College of Art expressed their discomfort with the proximity of their new dormitory, full of young women, to new city offices, consolidating homeless services on Forest Avenue (April 13). And, finally, Portland Stage artistic director Anita Stewart voiced similar concerns (April 14).

As someone who works with the homeless on the streets of Portland, I find all this angst and hand-wringing disturbing. Have we become so frightened that we can’t bear the sight of our fellow citizens who are struggling and only wish to isolate them somewhere far away where they won’t disturb our Pottery-Barn-Quaint downtown?

I remember returning to New York a couple of years ago, after a long absence, and discovering that the Lower East Side, a vibrant, economically diverse, rough-and-tumble neighborhood, had been scrubbed of its character by the tidal forces of gentrification. There was, however, the ironically titled Museum of the Tenement. I have shuddering daymares of sheltered, unwilling MECA students being assigned to create a photo montage titled: “Bayside under siege, how the poor were expelled and artisanal pizza was saved.”

Thanks, MECA students, for pushing back on all this (April 16). May we all follow your lead.

Rev. Jeffery Logan

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